This mid-century house blends wonderfully with its natural surroundings. Located on a steep wooded hillside in the small village of Ansty, in rural Wiltshire, England, the house overlooks a series of 12C buildings, and, quite remarkably, it fits right in.
Indeed, while it is unmistakably modern in its overall aesthetic, there is something quite timeless about the way the simple structure settles in amongst the trees. This is no doubt helped by that long roof. Following the gradient of the land, its beautiful Douglas-fir timber frame extends in one neat line across two levels.
Ansty Plum, as it is called, was originally built by David Levitt in 1964 for Roger Rigby, a former partner in Ove Arup’s office. It subsequently gained an additional studio and garage, designed by celebrated brutalist architects Peter and Alison Smithson added an additional studio and garage (in a decidedly less concrete-oriented style).
After years of neglect, by which time the Smithson studio had been left derelict, the house was bought by architect Sandra Coppin and her husband. Coppin’s firm Coppin Dockray then set about reviving this unique home, bringing in local craftsman and using locally-sourced materials to ensure the house was akin with its historically rich surroundings.
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According to the architects, much of the renovation work consisted of “unseen stitching and mending.” As is often the case with decidedly peculiar mid-century homes, incremental modifications by successive owners also obscured the original vision for the home. So, it was also left for Coppin Dockray to “expose the original form of the building”. The effect is an incredibly clean and cosy space.
Perhaps the most notable outcome of their work was to reduce the home’s overall energy consumption by 80%. No doubt this impressive reduction is partly attributable to the complete lack of concern for energy efficiency when the home was first built, but the architects have clearly made a concerted effort to insulate the home, introducing central and underfloor heating systems for the first time. As a result, it is now habitable throughout the year.
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In a lot of ways though, it’s the landscape which really makes this home a special one, and the architects have clearly gone to a lot of effort to harness this special asset. The Smithson studio looks out onto an ancient woodland track. A pond has been turned into a natural swimming pool. Meanwhile, the house is perpetually dappled by the shadows of ubiquitous native ferns, which the feature extensively in the surrounding area, along with mostly foxgloves, bluebells and wild garlic.
A home that could easily have become a ruin is safe for decades to come, nice work!
Photos by Brotherton Lock & Rachael Smith