Sir Michael Hopkins and his wife Patty have been abstaining from residential projects in their native England for over 30 years. But the non-trivial task - to build a guest house, "promoting" modern architecture among ordinary people - they were really interested. The project, led by the author of The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton, involves the construction of small residential buildings by famous and not so famous architects in different, but certainly spectacular, places in the UK. Five of them have already been opened, and two more are under construction. All houses are intended for short-term rentals, so that for a reasonable fee, any person or group of friends can spend a weekend or a week's vacation in a real piece of modern architecture. That is, not in passing to assess the appearance of the building, but to taste it and try to understand it.
Hopkins Architects is located near the village of Lengham in northern Norfolk, close to the seaside. As a prototype, the architects chose the oldest and probably the most widespread type of residential building - the so-called "long house". Such narrow elongated volumes of wood or stone have a single interior space. They have been known since Neolithic times and are found not only in Europe, but also, for example, in Asia and North America. Several of them have been found in the United Kingdom. At the same time, the gable roof shape chosen by the architects and the use of traditional stone on the facades in combination with wooden structures refer to the numerous local barns and churches. This “rootedness” of an object in the environment makes it more familiar and, therefore, understandable. So this is another important point in a well-thought-out plan for getting to know modern architecture.
The building with a total area of 400 m2 is designed for 10 guests. Additional stone walls form two open spaces at its ends, but protected from strong winds: the Morning Courtyard and the Evening Courtyard. Through the large windows of the first floor, views open not only of the surrounding nature, but even of the sea: although it is located three kilometers away, the terrain is flat.
The central interior space of the house is double-height and is formed by two walls. One fences off the cozy living area and has a built-in double-sided fireplace, the second separates the kitchen and dining room, but since the visual connection of all zones is preserved, the space is ultimately perceived as a single one. A circular spiral staircase leads to bypass galleries with great views, and from them to the four bedrooms and bathrooms located on the second floor. The fifth, separate bedroom is located in a small annex on the other side of one of the courtyards. Ash wood, which has a warm, golden hue, served as the main material for the interior decoration: the walls and floor are finished with it. Against this background, the designer furniture in the bedrooms, painted in rich, bright colors, looks especially impressive.
To complete the image, two small gardens are laid out in front of and behind the house. Plums, apple trees, hazel trees and wild local herbs help to organically fit the building not only into the architectural and historical, but also into the natural landscape. The horses and sheep grazing around make the picture absolutely idyllic.