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dan pearson studio

Coastal House

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The place

This extraordinary property on Devon’s south coast is set within 130 hectares of arable farmland and open, rolling fields that fall gently away to the sea. Perched on almost the highest point of the headland are the main house and various farm buildings, buffeted by south-westerlies but commanding clear views of the sea from east to west.

The brief

Surrounded by farm buildings to the north, a driveway and courtyard to the west and a series of awkward stone terraces to the south, the house felt cut off from the natural landscape. Our task was to rethink the use of land around the house to marry the requirements of a working farm with the desire for a series of modulated garden spaces for beauty, production, leisure and play, as well as providing better access to the living quarters.

The design

Our masterplan considered not just the house but the entire estate, converting two barnyards into gardens – one ornamental and one food-producing – and softening the levels around the house. The grassland surrounding the property was extensively remodelled, with new wildflower meadows and woodland roundels established. We kept our touch light, drawing on the local vernacular, restoring and replacing dry-stone walls, encouraging wildlife through the introduction of a new ornamental pond and ensuring our plant palette was suited to the often severe coastal climate. In 2014 we introduced 6a architects to the clients and they produced an award-winning restoration of the original farmhouse.

This is a garden that harnesses nature rather than fighting against it. Views and scenery are celebrated, and wind and weather embraced. The seasons are felt viscerally rather than merely observed, using the natural rhythm of the countryside to enhance the experience. …In tune with nature, ecology and its surroundings, the gardens (here) epitomise the kind of long-term environmental vision that we should all aim for. This, surely, is the way forward for garden-making in the 21st century. Forget the New Perennial movement – let the New Natural gardens take centre stage.

Clare Foster | House & Garden

client
Private

size
130 hectares

duration
2006-2012

status
Completed

architect
6a architects

awards
2018 RIBA National Award

2018 RIBA South West Award

2018 RIBA South West Conservation Award

2018 RIBA House of the Year Award | Nomination

photography
Huw Morgan