Thameside mansion

A multi generational family home by the Thames

OCRA were initially approached to undertake a concept design exploration which sought to explore the possibility of demolishing or remodelling Strangers, an 11 bedroom Domestic Revival style dwelling on a large plot situated alongside the River Thames. The dwelling has a footprint of approximately 595m2, and over the 3 floors has a GIA totalling 1360m2. 

The house is situated within the Hedsor Road and Riversdale Conservation Area (HRRCA), and also lies within Flood Zone 3 as per Environment Agency mapping data.

Boat house inspired roof form to modern mansion on the thames

Any proposal needed to consider the impact of demolition and replacement, as, as per the Riversdale & Hedsor Road Conservation Area Appraisal, “Strangers is the most prominent building along the river frontage of the conservation area” and while not listed has been deemed of local significance.

OCRA have been commissioned to look at options for the site. The initial options look at a single dwelling to replace the existing, one traditional and two contemporary in their form and styling. A further co ha-biting option looks to develop a house type that will allow for five family groups to live independently under one roof whilst still providing shared spaces for all the family to enjoy together.

This concept explores the ‘self contained’ part of the brief with greater emphasis. Where the other options look at each ‘self contained’ bedroom unit as only being access via one central shared staircase, this option provides external access to 3 ‘self contained’ units, while also being linked internally when desired to be able to use the shared social and entertainment spaces. The form(s) have been purposefully designed to be evidently independent, yet linked via a glass walkway. We have celebrated the independent units, and it helps to break down the mass of one large building and zone different spaces separately, and visually.

The roof forms are not consistent, and vary to create diversity. Depending upon where the building is viewed from, the form will continually change and the way shadows/ sunlight falls on the building will be an added benefit. In essence, the ground floor of the building is organised around family spaces which are to be shared, with 3 forms extruded in different directions. These ‘wings’ of accommodation have separate entrance doors opposite internal courtyards which allow inhabitants to access the unit external without passing through the main house – meeting the  requirements of the brief. The gatehouse mimics the roof forms of the main residence which helps connect and combine the buildings as one holistic design concept.

The main body of the dwelling (central mass) has a two storey element which houses 2 further bedrooms (sharing a kitchenette) as well as the generous master suite which shares a courtyard terrace with the bedroom opposite. This space will provide an external breakout space to enjoy the views, while being somewhat sheltered from the wind.

Key features of the scheme include;

  • The central double height atrium/lobby is a central space with which most other uses are organised off of. The family kitchen immediately ahead and breakfast room beyond are the centre of the home, with sliding pocket doors which allows spaces to be as connected (or not) as desired. If open, a view right through the building will greet the client or guest upon arrival.
  • A glass link with over sailing roof links the breakfast room with the formal family living room which has the greatest connection with the garden and river. The glass link follows the external boardwalk route to the existing boathouse (to be replaced) and proposed boathouse in either direction.
  • A lap pool on the opposite side overlooks the garden and river.
  • The accommodation wings on the ground floor have been organised around a small courtyard, which provides light into the plan and provides a focal point. It also helps to reduce the enclosed feeling within the circulation corridor to one side. The kitchenette borders the courtyard, with one bedroom bordering it on the opposite side.
  • The boathouses will take the roof form of the main dwelling, to again, help connect the scheme. The same palette of materials applied in a similar way will exacerbate the above.
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