Monday, 18 October 2021

Have you designs on a bespoke home?

THINKING of building a big house extension or your own home in 2016? You’re not the only one,

THINKING of building a big house extension or your own home in 2016? You’re not the only one, according to the ever-busy Royal Institute of British Architects.

A recent RIBA report has shown that last year’s design trends in greatest demand included sustainable and energy conservation measures. Others were:

• Larger extensions and bigger new-build bespoke houses

• Adaptable designs that make living easier for ageing occupants and live-in relatives

• Family social hubs, where multi-functional open-plan spaces tick all the boxes.

RIBA also says an increase in land availability and the relaxation of planning restrictions have led to an increase in one-off single houses and housing extensions.

A RIBA spokesman said: “Our data shows that 55 per cent of our architects reported that bespoke homes and housing extensions are getting bigger in size.

“As the ageing population increases, more of us are planning ahead for later in life by seeking design solutions to facilitate easier living.

“Adaptations to make independent living simpler, or adjusting a family home layout for the addition of an older family member are the two main drivers in this growing market.”

Many architects say we can expect to see a lot more of this as 2016 unfolds, along with the continuing popularity of generous multi-functional living spaces that combine cooking, dining and living.

RIBA’s spokesman added: “When these spaces are combined with direct access to gardens and outside space, they prove to be even more popular. Sixty-six per cent of our architects noted a demand for this kind of space last year.”

As for sustainability and energy conservation, RIBA says 70 per cent of its architects this year expect to see an increase in specifying advanced insulation products, and 66 per cent a rise in the use of solar/PV panels.

Last year’s RIBA house of the year, Flint House in Buckinghamshire, adhered to all the above criteria and more.

Architect Skene Catling de la Pena conceived the project to become part of the natural landscape — in this case flint and chalk.

The building’s bases are knapped flint and slowly change in construction and texture until they become chalk walling, dissolving into the sky.

The house is laid out in a flexible way to offer accommodation for family members, guests and artists, depending on who is staying.

Internally the spaces carefully frame the landscape and provide a rich sequence of experiences, including a small rivulet of water that cuts a grotto through a corner of the main house.

If you plan to hire an architect, make sure yours is RIBA-registered. Visit to create your own shortlist from more than 3,000 practices and 40,000 projects.


ANOTHER house that has been beautifully designed by some rather clever architects is this six- or seven-bedroom detached residence.

Located within walking distance of central Henley, Greenacres has a wonderful kitchen/diner/conservatory central hub plus a separate guest apartment for flexible family accommodation. The rooms flow seamlessly on to each other but can be divided up if the occasion requires it.

Details including hidden rooms — the entrance to the study is hidden behind a moving bookcase — give this property a quizzical and fun aspect. There is also an indoor saltwater swimming pool and gymnasium, changing room and shower.

Guide price: £4,950,000. Call Ballards on (01491) 411055 or Savills on (01491) 843000 for more information.

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