Architects Stephen Tierney and Nicola Haines designed this sustainable home in the woods, set in an ancient woodland and immersed in the changing seasons.
Photography by Stephen Tierney.
Set in an ancient woodland, this home is immersed in the changing seasons. Emerging from the bare winter days, the woodland is grey and light but its trees are about to burst into their spring foliage. Even on a hot summer day, the house feels cool under its shaded wooden arcade. In autumn, there is an explosion of colour to be enjoyed, including oak, ash, birch, alder, field maple and beech. Architects Stephen Tierney and Nicola Haines designed this home in Surrey for Nicola’s parents. Replacing a single-storey cottage, the architects had to follow strict planning conditions, ensuring that the footprint remained largely the same and that the new house would not be higher than the former structure. Taking advantage of the sloping side, they created basement space for a home office, playroom for the grandchildren, utility and plant room, resulting in a spacious 225sq m.
Set into a hillside, this is a home that quietly faces in all directions.
For Nicola’s father, a building surveyor, who had seen too many poorly built houses during his career, creating a sustainable and well-constructed home was a priority. He selfbuilt and achieved a near zero energy building (NZEB) home, using Structural Insulated Panels, a heat-pump, heat recovery ventilation and solar panels. A highly sustainable feature is that the oak used in the external cladding was harvested from their own woods under a Forestry Commission thinning licence and seasoned for five years prior to building. Horses rather than machinery were used to transport materials to minimise damage to the steep clay slope. While this self-build took longer than usual, it is a highly personal and sustainable home, much loved by its owners and their family. Nicola’s mum, who sadly passed away in 2021, was a keen gardener and the beautiful courtyard garden she created continues to be enjoyed every day. The project won the International category in the Wood Awards Ireland 2023. www.riai.ie
The house is clad in untreated oak, harvested from the woodland, which will weather according to its age and orientation.
This is a bright and comfortable home, designed to high energy standards.
Living spaces on the ground floor enjoy views both into the woodland and courtyard.
A covered veranda surrounds the house from which nature can be enjoyed.
The kitchen enjoys stunning views.