Black Timber House is a contemporary eco house located in the heart of the South Downs National Park in Rodmell, East Sussex. 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 house is situated between the Ash trees, and becomes part of the landscape. With large picture frame windows that offer views in and around the landscape, the rolling Downs and in-between. The material palette is considerate, using only high-quality and natural materials. The roof is weathered in dark slate tiles and the gutters and hoppers are in copper. Copper is a rich material that tones down over time and eventually the patina starts to oxidise into green.
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 entry hallway, and provides a grand opening to the rear landscape. This floor is planted into the landscape, and 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 user can climb up towards the canopy space.
The building performs at a high thermal and energy efficiency, and is able to produce renewable power with PV panels. The focus was to reduce the energy demands of a new build house. This has been achieved by using an air source heat pump coupled with low temperature under floor heating. As well as PV and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVRH). In addition, passive solar design, high levels of insulation and air tightness measures have made for and A rated house (A rated EPC).