Into the woods: a Hampshire home by Alma-nac is the perfect retreat

Into the woods: a Hampshire home by Alma-nac is the perfect retreat

The white, clean shapes of the 20th-century’s modernist villas and the sculptural outlines of brutalist concrete homes make for perfect juxtapositions against the softness and rawness of nature; but creating playful contrasts is not the only way to negotiate architecture’s relationship to nature. Often, a different approach can have just as striking results, and Alma-nac’s House in the Woods, a new modern home quietly nestled in a tree-filled site within the South Downs National Park, is a case in point.

Aiming to create a contemporary house for its clients, a family that owned a bungalow on site for over 60 years, the London-based practice chose to work with modern shapes but took a softer approach, opting for clean but relatively modest geometries, brick-clad volumes and a pitched roof that references local vernacular.

This being an area of outstanding natural beauty, it was important for the team to make the most of its surroundings, while respecting the setting. ‘Together with our client, we wanted to make the most of the views out to the landscaped garden and the South Downs beyond and a connection with the outdoors was essential’, explain the architects. It was equally crucial for the client to design a space that is flexible enough to act as a one-bedroom holiday home, but also accommodate larger family gatherings and guests when needed.

The result is a warm and thoroughly modern home that spans 240 sq m and two levels, featuring large openings that connect inside and outside visually through abundant glazing, and directly, with living spaces spilling out onto decks, terraces and gardens. A natural material palette of hand-cut brick, timber and natural slate also emphasise the house’s affiliation to the outdoors.

A generous, flowing ground level plays host to the main living spaces, including sitting room, and kitchen and dinning areas (divided by a feature fireplace), which are placed on the southern end of the plan. Double-height spaces underline a sense of lightness and space. Two large bedrooms are located upstairs, while further guest rooms are situated on the ground level’s southern side.

The project’s effortless connection to nature made it an ideal architectural setting for our outdoors themed fashion story, ‘Natural High’, featured in our June 2018 issue, out now.