House on Victoria Road, Holywood

by Hall McKnight

This house occupies a low-lying site bisected by a deeply cut stream. The house was conceived as a single-storey form that would ‘bridge’ this stream – its height judged such that the form of the house is barely perceived from the public road (bar the metal chimney flues). Within this sequestered setting of mature suburban villas that line an historic winding carriageway route, the house takes on a distinct character – reacting more to its wooded setting (where it can be read as a singular object resting within a clearing) than the nearby villas in their mature gardens (this site having been the rear garden of one of these villas).

To the south-west, the house presents itself to an intimate wooded garden setting as a glazed colonnade or series of vertically proportioned windows. The proportions of this elevation are carefully judged to achieve a calm, ordered and dignified poise that transcends the building’s domestic programme. There is a sense of an almost classical relationship between the house and the woodland it addresses. To the north-east, a series of fewer openings allows for a more private series of relationships to the closer neighbouring boundaries, and protects the privacy of the dwelling from those approaching along the entrance bridge.

The house bridges the river parallel to an existing foot-bridge – this existing feature is re-clad in timber.

The main living spaces, along with a guest room, are located on the bridge level of the house – all of the main living spaces are connected through circulation along the colonnaded elevation in an en filed manner. The floor level of the main lounge is dropped by two steps – though, since the ceiling level is constant across all of the living spaces, this room takes on a loftier and more luminous quality. The living spaces can be closed down (by using the concealed/recessed doors and sliding panels) to allow for more discrete occupation of these spaces.