Clay Retreat by PAD Studio – a modern house in the New Forest
Nestled in the picturesque New Forest National Park, the Clay Retreat is a stunning new modern house that exudes calmness and tranquillity. Designed by PAD studio, this three-bedroom residence was created to offer a London-based family a serene escape from bustling city life. With its light and natural interiors, this home is a testament to the studio’s commitment to environmentally-focused architecture.
Originally commissioned to reorganise an existing cottage on the verdant site. The local planning authority recommended that PAD studio should design a new, sustainable and cohesive home rather than revive the disjointed cottage. The only condition was that the new home matched the footprint of the old one. This requirement didn’t deter PAD studio and they cleverly designed an L-shaped plan of two connected pitched-roof volumes, minimizing the scale of the development.
Ricky Evans, Associate Architect at PAD studio says:
“Being located in the New Forest National Park, we were intent on delivering a contemporary design that sits lightly in its setting. Having such strong support from the local planning authority from the outset allowed us to deliver a home that functions both for our clients and the environment.”
The Clay Retreat is a perfect example of how a contemporary design can sit lightly in its setting, thanks to PAD studio’s expertise in creating environmentally-sensitive homes. Clad in timber battens and white render, this stunning home is a subtle nod to neighbouring A-frame chalets in the rural hamlet. The architects have also cleverly maximized the restricted site size by incorporating a new conservatory in the plan, characterized by corner and overhead glazing in the main dining space.
One of the standout features of the Clay Retreat is the attention to detail that PAD studio has lavished on this home. From the bespoke stair rail leading to a mezzanine study that’s wrapped in almost half a kilometer of sisal rope, to the specially-cast concrete hearth that lines the living space, every element has been crafted to perfection. The interior palette of natural materials, including oak, polished concrete and plaster, and jute, has been chosen to bounce light throughout the home, creating a calming and peaceful environment.
Craftsmanship is apparent at each turn in the Clay Retreat. Walls and ceilings are hand washed in natural clayworks plaster, adding a muted, textured finish throughout. Floor to ceiling bespoke oak wardrobes line the bedrooms and utility room to offer plentiful storage. Mezzanines in the children’s bedrooms add optional sleeping spaces to maximize the use of the restricted floor plan and provide secondary spaces for reading and rest.
PAD studio has also incorporated the family’s calm character and references from their multicultural heritage into the design. Influenced by Japanese customs of entry, various flooring materials, including brick, concrete, and timber, have been used to create clear demarcations and thresholds between shoes-on and shoes-off spaces. The house features versatile ledges along hallway windows in the children’s bedrooms, offering a variety of spaces to spend time curled up with a book while still having a connection to the wider home and views to the surrounding nature.
The Clay Retreat is not just beautiful, but it’s also environmentally-friendly. Heavily insulated, featuring triple glazed windows, and thermal bridging to stop heat loss, this home is sealed for airtightness, with openable windows arranged in line with PAD’s natural ventilation strategy. An air source heat pump provides an off-grid solution to provide background heating, and heating hot water contained in a thermal store. Photovoltaic panels generate electrical power to offset the use of the mechanical systems, neutralising their power use. The timber frame structure includes blown paper insulation in the roof, while the fully insulated raft foundation system uses 60% less concrete (on average) compared to traditional foundations.
The Clay Retreat is a true testament to the ethos of PAD studio. The architects have created a beautiful, functional, and environmentally-friendly home that perfectly suits the needs of its occupants. The family is thrilled with their new home, saying, “The new house is so much more usable, we get to enjoy all the spaces now. The house also nods gently to our Japanese side of the family without being too obvious; we like the sliding pocket doors and the brick utility entry as a modern interpretation of the traditional Japanese genkan.”