Black Timber House, Rodmell

Double award winner at the RIBA South East awards. We had a vision to create a striking eco house in the heart of the South Downs National Park that would stand the test of time, using local and sustainable materials whilst using passive ways to reduce energy consumption. The result is Black Timber House in Rodmell.




A Rated (95)




176 m2

The Site

This new build house sits on a 0.25 acre site, situated within the conservation area of the South Downs National Park. Black Timber House is found at the end of a quiet country lane sheltered under large ash trees with views of the rolling Downs and sweeping wildflower meadows. It nurtures a feeling of well- being, and a calm of rural life. With large picture frame windows that offer views of the landscape, the rolling Downs and in-between.

Design Approach

The form of the house is created by the stacking of two volumes creating interesting overhangs and roof spaces. The veranda and window reveals are clad in natural wood while the rest of the exterior is clad in a striking charred black timber. The charred English larch cladding boards create a particularly impressive aesthetic using the Yakisugi method of charring wood. This leaves the boards with a highly pronounced grain and greater colour depth. The charring method is also known to give greater resistance to moss, algae and insects.

The material pallet has been carefully curated to patina and weather into its surroundings, using deep grain charred English larch, complimented with natural copper guttering and dark slate roofs to create a particularly impressive aesthetic.


At ground floor, the plan is a simple box containing the heart of the home, a large open-plan kitchen/living/dining room. This is accessed from a generous entrance hallway, and provides a grand opening to the rear landscape. This floor is planted into the landscape. Emphasised by the black timber cladding, which is laid horizontally at ground floor, with narrower boards and vertically at first floor with wider boards. The kitchen is made from surplus engineered oak flooring, cut and formed to create the cupboard and drawer fronts. The worktop is a natural patinaed zinc and works beautifully amongst the other natural products used throughout the building. At the first floor, in a simple gable form are the private bedrooms, reaching up into the canopies, a point heightened by the switch to vertical timber cladding.

The plan creates a covered entrance and provides a raised open veranda to enjoy the rear garden and fields beyond. The vaulted ceilings in the bedrooms create impressive double-height spaces. And a wrap-over window over the staircase adds some fantastic natural light, and drama as the occupants climb up towards the canopy space.


Energy Efficiency

The building performs at a very high thermal and energy efficiency standard and is able to generate its own power with the help of PV panels. The focus was to reduce the energy demands of a new build house.

This has been achieved by using a high efficiency air source heat pump coupled with low temperature under floor heating and high thermal mass heat sink floors. As well as PV and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVRH) the house employs passive solar design, high levels of insulation and air tightness measures to make for an A rated house (A rated EPC)

Photos by Jim Stephenson


From the onset Stuart Paine listened and understood my brief. We collaborated fully from feasibility design, through to completion of the house including project management. He incorporated my initial thoughts whilst adding design details I hadn’t even contemplated which enhanced my ideas and made the best possible use of the plot and surrounding area. Throughout this process he listened to any concerns I had and sought to find a solution that satisfied me as a client, the budget and the builder, whilst keeping an integrity of design, not always easy.   Throughout this process he navigated problems out of our control, for example covid, calmly and practically. In terms of quality of work, timeliness and cost management I could not recommend him more highly. Unforeseen circumstances have always been mitigated by innovative solutions which have demonstrated his architectural design competence. I am absolutely delighted with the outcome.

Client - Black Timber House
Black Timber House Shortlisted

AJ Architecture Awards

We are excited to announce that Black Timber House has been shortlisted for the Architects Journal Awards, project under £500K category.

RIBA Winner South East Black Timber house
Black Timber House Winner

RIBA South East Awards

We are incredibly excited to announce that our project Black Timber House has won 2 Awards at the RIBA South East Awards: ‘Regional Award’ and ‘Small Project of the Year Award’

Small scale residential awards ‘highly commended’

Sussex Heritage Awards

We were honored to receive ‘highly commended’ for the small scale residential awards.



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