Four Seasons, Stockland Rd, Speldhurst.
Site description: This site was the former kitchen garden for Bentham Hill House. It falls within the Bentham Hill House Historic Park and Garden boundary and is within the metropolitan green belt and High Weald AONB. The original outbuildings of potting sheds, glass houses and boiler rooms remained with a 1960’s bungalow built centrally within the space.
Proposal: Historically the brick walled garden was a dominant element defining the rural from tamed landscape. In more recent years it had become dominated and domesticated by the bungalow.
The concept for the replacement house was to reflect the existing use of the site and to re-elevate the walled garden to be a prominent feature of the garden and landscape beyond. Relocating the house against the southern boundary reflects traditional greenhouses, maximising light and minimising exposure to the north for passive solar energy. The location frames two mature weeping willows which in turn provide solar shading to the glass house. The old garden wall runs through the glass pavilion as a spine highlighted with a slot roof light. The design allows the walled garden to be read in its entirety. The existing potting shed and a large basement house all the ancillary space including gym, study, music room, store and plant room allowing the main house to read as a small contemporary garden pavilion.
The proposed planting is also a modern interpretation of the traditional walled garden with espaliered trees, green walls, grasses and water introduced to reflect the willows. The tones of the cladding highlight colour in the agricultural landscape and the living roof elevates the ground. This forms piece of landscaped architecture which can be glimpsed from outside of the walled garden. RIBA Stages 0-3*