A generous low-energy new build flint and timber house inspired by the local vernacular

Project details


Bledlow Ridge, Buckinghamshire


Private house






On site

Crofters is a new 470m2, four-bedroom house that is inspired by the industrial and agricultural buildings in its local context. The project is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within the Green Belt on a 30-acre site at Bledlow Ridge in Buckinghamshire, north-west of High Wycombe.


Replacing an existing house on the same footprint, Crofters is designed to take advantage of its spectacular elevated views over the valleys of the Chiltern Hills, and be a sustainable and contemporary interpretation of the local vernacular.


Primarily a flint and timber building with a steel structural frame, Crofters’ design moves away from the concept of a house looking like a house. The scheme was commissioned via a mini architectural competition and learns from, and adopts, cues from the working buildings that are scattered across its landscape – open slatted timber barns down the hill and random field flint, which the client enjoys.


Interior perspectives



The main entrance to Crofters showing the staircase down to the living accommodation, stair up to the bedroom level and view across the Chiltern Hills through the middle


From the passing road, the house presents as a single-storey flint plinth with a light grey-stained timber pitched roof first floor. These two parts are separated by a band of clerestory windows at ground level so that the timber volume appears to ‘float’ above. Windows are limited on the facade to align the design with the agricultural buildings that Crofters references, as well as ensure privacy and prevent unnecessary solar gain from the rising eastern sun.


From the front, the building reads as two storeys. Once inside, however, as the site slopes away to the rear into the valley an additional lower ground floor opens out down a generous stair ahead. This submerged lower level creates additional living area while minimising the building’s impact on the Green Belt context. This level accommodates the 22m-long living, dining and kitchen space. The interior is lined with crown-cut oak panelling and can be divided into two intimate spaces using a bespoke timber concertina wall. Beyond is a full-width terrace that looks out over the garden with its deliberately wild planting designed to merge effortlessly with the natural landscape.





Site Plan

Site plan of Crofters, a new build private house in Buckinghamshire


Back on the ground floor, there is another separate sitting room, two home offices at either end and an inset staircase that leads to the first floor bedrooms, each with their own en-suite bathroom. A deep overhanging first floor to the rear reduces solar gain. An external balcony bridges across the far void of the stairwell and is designed as a platform from which to further enjoy Crofters’ position in the landscape, as well as the thrill of being suspended over the staircase at the centre of the house and its architecture.


The building’s design incorporates the latest green technologies and passive design, including an air source heat pump, a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system (MVHR), greywater storage, photovoltaic panels, solar shading, recyclable steel frame, electric vehicle charging and a green roof to encourage biodiversity. The flint and timber are sourced locally to further assimilate the building with its context and reduce embodied carbon.

Front and side elevations of Crofters, a new build private house in Buckinghamshire

Two section drawings showing the sloping site of Crofters, a new build private house in Buckinghamshire

Rear elevation drawing of Crofters, a new building private house in Buckinghamshire

First floor plan, Crofters, private house, Buckinghamshire

Ground floor plan, Crofters, private house, Buckinghamshire

Lower ground floor plan, Crofters, private house, Buckinghamshire



Quantity Surveyor – CLPM

Structural and Civils Engineer - Centre Space

Services Engineer - PR3

Landscape Architect - The Plant Specialist

Visualisation - Napier Clarke