Rhossili House is a private home in a prominent and dramatic position on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales. The remote site, on the cliff edge overlooking Rhossili Beach is extremely exposed, facing the full force of the south westerly prevailing winds. Using CLT as the structural material enabled the house to be built quickly, by Eurban in a race against time to complete the installation and get the building weathertight the day before the first COVID 19 lockdown.
During the assembly phase of the CLT structure, the installation team kept a close eye on the wind forecast, fortunately there were only a few hours of high winds where panels could not be lifted, so the 3 week programme was achieved and the structure handed over on time.
The regulatory constraints of building in such a protected landscape were more challenging than the physical constraints. The house is situated in a Conservation Area; an Area of Special Scientific Interest; on the Historic Coastline and is in the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These site designations meant that Maich Swift’s design needed to overcome 57 planning conditions in a drawn out process to gain approval. It is the only house in this location and is extremely prominent, therefore, the design took a modest and respectful approach whilst being innately modern.
The new dwelling stands at the north-eastern corner of the site and takes advantage of the long views of the surrounding coastal landscape and across the sea to Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire. Key to Maich Swift’s brief was the client’s desire to capture the dramatic views that can be enjoyed from almost every angle, and to ensure privacy as the site is overlooked from many sides: from the adjacent café, the coastal path below, and above from Rhossili Downs.
The ground floor plan of the house is arranged around a central stair, with each of the living spaces orientated towards a different view. The rooms, whilst differentiated by their volume, form a unified sequence of spaces without doors. Upstairs, bedrooms are arranged in a pin wheel plan around the top lit central hallway. The bedrooms occupy the corners of the building, below the pitched roof with large floor to eaves square windows. The bedrooms are separated from each other by a washing area which addresses acoustic separation and privacy.
Paul Maich, Partner and Founder at Maich Swift Architects comments “We liked CLT aesthetically because of its monolithic nature; it looks like a homogenous material, and you can see it as a construction material almost like precast concrete therefore the majority of CLT has been left exposed internally.”
The minimal floor build ups on the first floor led Eurban to recommend a new connection detail from Sherpa – the fixings were pre-installed in the factory with the remaining screws fixed on site to secure the wall to the floor panels.
Externally, the design responds to the local and Welsh vernacular, defined by a combination of distinctive elements including gable ends, chimneys, a porch and a slate clad roof which combine to reference the volumetric composition and external material palette of the local residential buildings.