near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Part two of a Chilterns AONB development: contemporary farmhouse

With experience of a self-build in childhood, our client had always dreamt of building their own home in a rural setting. Restoring and then selling The Beehive gave them the funds they needed, so they wanted us to design the new home in keeping with the original site – and the original house.

It was important in planning and environmental terms that the two buildings related well to one another with The Beehive governing the height. This meant we had some restrictions to our design and needed to be clever with how we dealt with a reduced floor to ceiling height of just over two metres.

The concept design for the house was ‘contemporary farmhouse’ to sit comfortably in the AONB setting on the fringe of the village. The triangular dormer windows, vaulted ceilings, and exposed steel/oak structure create beautiful spaces with interesting angles and volumes overcoming the sometimes-clinical feeling of a new-build home. 

Echoes of The Beehive remain in the layout and in the overall look and feel (the name Colmena is Spanish for beehive).

The double-volume entrance hall with full-height glazing and sweeping staircase to the upper floor has exposed steel and oak trusses, with rooflights to accentuate the height and flood the entrance with natural light. We also used full-height internal doors on the ground floor to maximise light throughout the house and create a sense of height and volume.

Every room on the first floor has a magnificent view including all three bathrooms which each have baths to look out from – our client told us how she loves lying in the master bath and watching for shooting stars!

While offering plenty of space for enjoyment and entertaining, this property also has a serious impact in terms of sustainability – passivhaus principles govern the airtight design and building fabric.

We’ve achieved a home that truly brings the outside in, making the most of both the garden, with its ample space for three young children, and the countryside setting.

“Bronwen is a breath of fresh air as an architect. She has been the architect on two projects for us now, a large sustainable new build and grade 2 listed major renovation, involved in all stages through to completion. Her creative thinking, advice and common sense approach has been invaluable. Bronwen has a ‘can do’ approach to the inevitable obstacles that arise during many large building projects. She is open, honest and sets realistic expectations about what can be achieved within budgets whilst still achieving the best design solution. She is genuinely passionate about making buildings more sustainable. She is unpretentious yet extremely knowledgeable. We have been thrilled with both projects and have no hesitation in recommending Connected Architecture to friends and family.”

Naomi & George | Henley-on-Thames