Architects Directory 2020: Surman Weston, UK
Established in 2014 and led by Tom Surman and Percy Weston, this London studio brings a distinctive approach full of individuality to its projects. ‘We eschew a house style,’ say the two founders, who have worked together on a variety of interior redesigns, single-family houses, small scale residential, cultural, education and commercial work. Ditton Hill House is among the studio’s latest completions. The new-build, 250 sq m detached Surrey home gently references the suburban vernacular of its locale, complete with a pitched roof and archetypal house outline; yet it does so in a pared down, contemporary way that blends Tudor style and industrial aesthetic.
A slanted refrence to the mock Tutor style ubiquitous to suburbs nationally, Ditton Hill House celebrates local architectural vernacular in a contemporary way. The steel, pure white exoskeleton (a nod to the local train station, an Art Deco masterwork designed by James Robb Scott) marks this home apart from its neighbours, enhancing the suburban locale.
The client, founder of a bohemian fashion brand, asked for a contemporary house with an industrial aesthetic, that went further than the minimalist open-plan box typology. Surman Weston answered by introducing an increasingly warm material palette through the home. Timber floors underfoot and soft plaster walls act as counterpoints to the steel roof and floor decks that run throughout. The exposed decks add texture to the interior palette – a modern interpretation of exposed Tudor timber beams.
Inside, the spaces are modified by varying sizes. A church-like, triple-height entrance hall offers an impressive welcome, while sequentially smaller spaces create areas of intimacy. Views over the garden were also priority of the client. As well as being visible through panoramic ground floor windows, on the upper floor (housed in the equally impressive five metre high loft), the master bedroom opens onto an enclosed balcony, where views of the trees and sky beyond offer a visual escape from the suburbs.
Ditton House marks the studio’s first new build, which they describe as a ‘rite of passage.’ ‘For us, the most interesting and rewarding part of designing a house is the opportunity to work with a client to realise a home tailored to their specific needs and personality,’ they explain. ‘We’re firm believers that the best projects are those with strong briefs and engaged clients, which allow us to foster a creative dialogue that gets richer and richer as the project progresses.’ §