Overlooking the 4,000 gently rolling acres of the historic Kedleston Estate in Derbyshire, the two five-bedroom houses by Greenbuilt Homes are strikingly contemporary in their design. Key to their success is the careful specification of materials, with Vandersanden’s Lithium hand-formed, facing bricks creating facades with an appealing softness, unity and colour.
Greenbuilt Homes has gained a competitive edge through well-conceived architecture, high specification and the use of quality materials since it began building small, bespoke developments in 2002. The houses on Kedleston Road, to the north-west of Derby, are super energy efficient and won Best Small New Housing Development at the LABC East Midlands Building Excellence Awards 2019.
The brief to the architect, Oasis Studio, was to create a standout and visually appealing scheme that makes a bold architectural statement and takes advantage of the fabulous open view over the Kedleston Estate. Internal doors to the ground floor have visual panels so this view could be appreciated from inside the light-filled, three-storey properties that include bespoke metal and glass staircases.
Kedleston Road is a mix of architecture styles, mostly dating from the 1940s to the 1960s. The new houses replace a 1940s chalet-style bungalow and face west, tapering towards the back to accommodate the limitations of the site. Their roofs are bold and mono-pitched, with a ridge height matching neighbouring properties, helping to minimise any visual impact. This roof design also allows sunlight to reach the back gardens, ensuring the home office/gym pods built at the bottom of each garden receive maximum light towards the end of the day.
While the main structure of the house is timber frame and steel, a blend of high-quality materials is used externally. Powder-coated, anthracite grey aluminium forms the soffits, fascias, eaves and rainwater goods, with matching rectangular profile windows. Alongside these features, hardwood clad infill panels and off-white render complement the muted grey, buff and black shades and grained structure of the Vandersanden Lithium bricks.
On the choice of bricks, James Greening, Managing Director of Greenbuilt Homes, explains that he gathers ideas when travelling and, while in Copenhagen, saw a brick that inspired him. “I took a picture and, when I got back, visited Browns Builders Merchants in Derby. They have a good brick matching service and showed me the Vandersanden range. The Lithium brick was perfect. It’s a bit like a tumbled handmade brick but has continental, contemporary architectural tones running through it.”
To maintain the contemporary, unified look, the mortar was struck off and then, as it started to dry, was very lightly brushed. “There’s no join, no bucket handles, no recess, it just brings the brick to the fore,” enthuses Greening. “With the mortar, we tweaked the colour tone with an additive. It has a softness and there is a little bit of difference between the colour of the brick and the mortar to avoid it looking too dark and heavy.”
James Greening says: “Now I’ve used Vandersanden bricks I wouldn’t entertain any other make. The company impressed me with their quality products that are consistent and have architectural appeal. They also offer a wide range of styles that cover older historic periods right through to the modern age. You can’t beat having good products that are delivered when you want them; I’ve recently chosen another Vandersanden brick - Old Farmhouse - to use for the extension of an old cottage.”
For more information, please visit the Vandersanden website.
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