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Windward House in Gloucestershire, UK by Alison Brooks Architects

Project name:
Windward House
Architecture firm:
Alison Brooks Architects
Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
Paul Riddle
Principal architect:
Alison Brooks
Design team:
Alison Brooks, Wanja Wechselberger, Wei Shan Chia, Sophie Bates, Christopher Smaill, Sara Yabsley, Alex Nicholls, Christopher Curran, Antonio Callejon
Interior design:
Built area:
623 m²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Akera Engineers
Environmental & MEP:
Peter Deer & Associates
Barker & Barker
Alison Brooks Architects
Tools used:
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, AutoCAD
E G Carter & Co Ltd
David and Jenny Clifford

Alison Brooks Architects completes a monumental house and living art gallery high above the Wye Valley.

Alison Brooks Architects’ latest house is set atop the highest point in Gloucestershire, overlooking the Wye Valley. The result of a ten-year collaboration, this new house and landscape project celebrates domestic living amongst an extraordinary collection of Indian and African Tribal Art. It includes the restoration and conversion of a late Georgian farmhouse to a Gallery and office, a new fully accessible ‘West Wing’, a sequence of walled gardens and a new Pool Gallery.

Windward House, Gloucestershire from Alison Brooks Architects on Vimeo.

Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Brooks likes to describe Windward House as ‘a gallery with people living in it’, where the owners’ art collection are like friends and family sharing the spaces of daily life. The house is also a journey. Intertwining old and new, its sequence of rooms, buildings and landscapes tell a story from the 18th C to today.

Windward House in Gloucestershire, UK by Alison Brooks Architectsimage © Paul Riddle

Light is sculpted and funnelled from above and walls unfold, framing epic views across the meadows and forests to the Severn River. Art works from the collection animate this journey occupying plinths, ramps, niches, and staircases.

The restored Windward Farmhouse acts as an historic threshold. Mirror-polished steel cladding announces its transformation, dissolving the mass of the original building’s stone walls in reflections of the garden. Beyond the farmhouse the new West Wing is a shadowy, quiet backdrop; its dark tones and cladding pattern inspired by the nearby Forest of Dean. The entire right half of the farmhouse has been opened to create a triple height gallery. A walnut-panelled mezzanine and wood-burning fireplace echo the collection’s material qualities. 

British farmhouse with stone walls image © Paul Riddle

Seen from the south, the two-storey West Wing is set back, low-lying and partially embedded in the hillside, deferring to the 18th farmhouse. The volume of the extension is positioned to interlock with the existing stone building. This creates intimate courtyard spaces between high garden walls sheltered from the pervasive wind. Serving as the owner’s primary living space, the West Wing is a variation of the atrium house typology and a nine-square structural grid, undulating in three dimensions to echo the topography of adjacent meadows. A deep first floor roof terrace takes in the spectacular view to the south; the double height living room overlooks a sloped pool of grasses.  It’s gently sloping green roofs are planted with native species of wildflowers.

old county house in UKimage © Paul Riddle

Inside, the West Wing is filled with light, open to the landscape and adapted to the needs of later life. Its sequence of double height spaces offers a variety of light conditions and spatial qualities to accommodate sculptures, masks, shields, temple doors and paintings collected over four decades.

The West Wing’s pigmented concrete floor was conceived as a moulded terrain upon which discreet objects rest: stone grotto, timber-clad service ‘pod’, steel staircase, looped plinths. Living, dining, and cooking areas flow into each other and onto exterior terraces. The plan revolves around the concrete and marble kitchen island reflecting the owners’ dedication to entertaining and cooking for friends and family. Washed with light from above, this vantage point enjoys both visual connection to the first-floor gallery and panoramic views to the four cardinal directions. Gardens, seasons, and weather stage a continuously changing scenography.

garden with green plants image © Paul Riddle

Brooks’ ‘Stair for 100 Objects’ is an installation in itself. Each tread is a 6mm thick ‘loop’ horizontally cantilevered from the stair’s central spine, a vertical steel grillage with 100 cells to display the owner’s treasured small works. Moving upward into light, the stair leads to a first floor gallery, bedrooms, study and a roof terrace. Every space offers perspectives both outward and inward, through rooms and across gardens.

garden plants image © Paul Riddle

The Pool Gallery is the culmination of the journey. Approached via a garden path, it is a stone-walled courtyard open to the sky. One wall has been ‘thickened’ to become a building containing changing facilities, guest accommodation, display space and storage. A quiet retreat for art, guests, and grandchildren, the pool gallery celebrates local traditions of field stone masonry and precision carpentry.

black house image © Paul Riddle

Surrounding Windward House are 8.5 hectares of land. A large portion of this is wildflower meadow and orchards that are part of the owners’ long-term programme to restore and optimise the ecological value of the whole area.  The landscape strategy includes ongoing repair and renewal of 2.5km of hedges with pollen-rich species and the planting of 2,500 trees.

cozy living room with black leather sofa image © Paul Riddle

The Client, David Clifford comments: “Working with Alison Brooks and her project architects has been exhilarating. It has been a tremendous learning process. Our first lesson was that modern houses are designed from the inside. For we who had always lived in Georgian or Victorian houses this was a novel idea.”

Project Areas

Site (incl buildings)                                   2.74 ha

Garden (not incl. buildings)                     2.68 ha

Original House GIA                                   220 sqm

West Wing GIA                                          309 sqm

Pool House GIA                                         94 sqm

Total GIA                                                   623 sqm

living room with carpet image © Paul Riddle

Sustainability Summary

The strategy for Windward House was based on reducing energy consumption, excellent thermal envelope and avoiding the use of solid fuel heaters. Therefore, the house does not consume any energy from solid fuels: Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP), Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP)s and Solar Thermal Panels provide the heating and hot water requirements. Electricity consumption is reduced by solar photovoltaic panels.

bookshelves under staircase image © Paul Riddle

The main house has a GSHP from Ecoforest, a model which was designed to contain the latest advances in efficiency and economy. Also, the restored farmhouse has solar thermal panels fitted to the roof. The West Wing is an extensive green roof reducing rainwater runoff and has been planted with native wildflowers to support local biodiversity.

metal sculptures in bookshelf image © Paul Riddle

The pool pavilion is served for heating and hot water by an ASHP and a separate ASHP warms the swimming pool water. The swimming pool is black which provides 4ºC advantage over the conventional blue pool and the cover on the pool is designed to act as a solar thermal transmitter. In addition, there is a 4.5kWp solar PV system on the roof of the pool pavilion. Lastly, natural ventilation is provided to mitigate overheating.

Site Map drawingSite Map 

Axonometric drawing Axonometric 

Section drawing Section 

Alsion Brooks Architects is an architecture practice from London with international educational, residential, and cultural projects. They are Dezeen Awards Architect of the Year 2020 and the only British architect that has won all three of the UK’s most prestigious awards for architecture: the RIBA Stirling Prize, Manser Medal and Stephen Lawrence Prize. 

Other creidts: 

Environmental Consultant Bearwood Associates

Garden Designer Stoney & Janson

Quantity Surveyor Measur Construction Consultants

West Wing and Windward House Gallery Contractor E G Carter & Co Ltd

Landscape & Pool House Contractor Barker & Barker

Landscape Contractor Trunkarb Tree Surgery

Environmental Co-ordinator Helena Ronicle

Joinery Smith & Choyce Ltd. 

Glazing Fineline Aluminium

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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