Underbank House





Architect: prue chiles architects
Client: private
Awards won: riba yorkshire award 2014,

riba yorkshire emerging architect of the year, riba yorkshire small project award

This new building sits on the threshold between nature and artifice between landscape and building, between the intimacy of domestic life and the generously spirited ‘big outdoors’. The use of space and materials both reclaimed and reinforce the connection between the interior and the exterior of this modestly scaled structure.

Wanting to make the most of the steeply sloping topography of the site and capture the impressive views of the landscape beyond, the architects sought to create a space that links the house to the garden, in addition to improving winter access to the house for their retiree clients. 

The original stone building is typical of the small cottage industries that characterised the textile industry of Holmfirth and the surrounding area. The project has created a highly insulated personal space, unique to the otherwise traditionally built 18th Century Cottage. The voluminous light filled spaces that the architects have created act as a counterpoint to the cozy low-ceilinged rooms of the existing building. The image of the new building is somewhere between a cabin and a cave, conceived as a rocky outcrop that has been hewn out of the rock and inhabited.

The material quality is at once sympathetic to the surroundings, satisfying the needs of the conservation area whilst creating a form that is confidently contemporary. The new building straddles the boundary between house and garden, its walls seemingly growing from the rock on which they are found, becoming part of the sequence of garden walls and cascading terraces that tumble down the hillside.

The roofscape, seen from the main floors of the house, merges and compresses the distant moorland with the language of the architecture. Slabs of stone and heather offer literal connections to the mood and material quality of the landscape, with glass roof lights signifying dark reflective pools of water.
The walls are built from reclaimed dry stonewalling with deeply raked mortar joints that further reinforce the connection between the new building and existing garden structures. The stone envelope peels away on the south and west elevations framing distant views, taking advantage of their solar orientation. A pleasingly heavy timber pergola extends the language, materiality and syncopation of the curtain wall structure and will be planted with the client’s favourite wisteria, offering shade to the glazed south façade in the height of the summer. The project sought to create an entrance from the lower level directly into the new structure. This winter entrance has a wide, thick, solid oak door that gives access to a meticulously detailed lobby lined in timber, wrapping you in an atmosphere of warmth and isolation.

A new parking area has been formed at the lower end of the site with generous shallow steps and meandering gently sloping paths climbing up the hill. Close to the house a series of wide terraces lead to the new extension. Steep steps then lead up to the main entrance.  

CONTRACTOR: David Lyles Builders

PHOTOGRAPHER: prue chiles architects