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Westlake House

Most architects, both emerging and established alike, can agree that the watchful eye of the client can be a tad bit daunting. As a fledgling architecture firm with their first residential project, SpacelabUK's Andrew Budgen and Nathan Lonsdale had more than their client watching, they had the UK television audience as well. SpacelabUK's work was documented from start to finish on the Westlake home and it ended with stunning results-satisfied clients, over 5 million television viewers and a RIBA design award for their finished project.

Satisfied with previous work done by SpacelabUK, the Westlakes approached Budgen and Lonsdale with a new assignment, an addition to their recently purchased home. After assessing the site and the owners' options, Budgen and Lonsdale were able to convince their client to start from scratch and completely raze the derelict Victorian cottage to make space for something completely new. By taking this approach, the architect explains that money would be saved by avoiding English building taxes but most importantly would be able to take advantage of the "undulating English countryside for miles around."

The architects encouraged their clients to keep a scrapbook of everything that inspired them. Budgen wanted a collection of items from the clients containing "pictures, colors, textures, materials,and surfaces." The clients were also asked to consider how they live in their space during private family time and when they entertain. Considering budget constraints their clients' needs, Budgen and Lonsdale designed a contemporary residence shaped as a cube, which takes full advantage of natural light and the surrounding changing views.

Three sides of the two-story house are clad in horizontally laid stained Scandinavian softwood. The
private southern side of the house is composed mainly of two-story windows. The ground floor portion of this glazed fašade forms sliding doors that create a large unbroken opening. The flooring from the inside dining area runs into the outside creating a deck and slants into a "promenade which runs across the clients' sloping landscape echoing a coastal pier," describes Budgen.

The rest of the layout is planned around the light and the views available from the two-story glass fašade. On the ground floor, the living and dining area is placed closest to the glass aperture. The kitchen and small bedroom/study, though placed further back, still benefit from the natural light.

The Westlake house is equipped with underfloor heating. A small wood-burning fireplace in the living area adds a stylistic flair and, as Budgen explains, has the added benefit of "using timber from the nearby forest".The glass-sided stairway was built in two separate pieces and provides what Budgen describes as "a sculptural quality to the space." On the second floor facing the windows is a walkway/balcony, a bathroom, and two bedrooms. The master bedroom overhangs the living area and features a large glass opening that has dual vantage points including the living area below and the outdoors.

When the television crews return for a follow-up story on the Westlake house, they will find some changes. They will find extremely pleased clients who have discovered their new home adapts as their family grows. They will also find a young architectural firm which has grown in staff and credibility with new projects on the boards.



By Randi Greenberg
Gross square footage:
1,100 sq. ft.

Total construction cost:

Source: Architectural Record,  House of the Month,
Westlake House, Oundle, UK

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