STORMY CASTLE

The brief was to provide a contemporary, Code Level 4 replacement dwelling of first class architectural quality on an exceedingly sensitive rural site on the North Gower coast. 

Occupying an elevated position on Llanmadoc Hill, the site is exposed on the northern, eastern and southern sides; whilst backed against, and cut into, rising land to the west. From within the site this position provides dramatic 270° panoramic views over the estuary towards Llanelli and across the Gower countryside. Accordingly, by virtue of its location, the property is also highly visible from great distances. The site adjoins National Trust land to the North and lies within a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. Above the house, some distance away, there exists the remains of a Bronze age Celtic hill fort.

The core scheme for the new Stormy Castle has been conceived as three lines in the landscape, following the contours of the land, with much of the proposed dwelling cut and sunk into the sloping site within a concrete earth shelter. Each level is then covered with turf roofs, reducing massing, visibility and impact on the surrounding environment. This fragmented layout evolved as much for pragmatic reasons (working with the topography, climatic considerations, planning accommodation according to orientation) as to take advantage of the desired views, need for privacy, and internal organisation & circulation. The site organisation also includes a number of enclosed external spaces and courtyards- including the sunken 'Secret Courtyard' accessed only from the client's Study and Master Bedroom. Within the site an existing Barn and Old School House are to be sensitively incorporated into the new dwelling. Great care has been taken in determining the junctions between the new build and the existing elements, weaving the new into the old.

Those parts of the house which can be seen take their inspiration from familiar agricultural forms, Corten and concrete, echo the natural colours found in the local environment, whilst glass, the third element exploits the natural light and spectacular views. Manicured areas of garden have been restricted to the courtyards, with the remainder of the site being handled naturally, to be left as wild hillside, meadow or heathland according to location. This ensures that the new dwelling is integrated into the landscape resulting in minimal visual impact on the rural setting.

The project reached practical completion in Autumn 2013.

"This scheme has the potential to be an exemplar of high quality, inovative design in a protected landscape" Design Commission for Wales, December 2009.