Hopton Yard is a ‘close’ of 4 houses in a former gravel pit site that was then used as a scaffold yard. The topography of the site heavily influenced the design, as the northerly aspect presents expansive rural views over the surrounding water meadows, while the site itself is partly dug into the hill as a result of its former use.

The four houses each respond to this setting in individual ways – in particular, maximising the views over the top of the bank at the north of the site through first floor living spaces in each of the three dwellings on that side of the site. South-facing gardens sit between the houses and the shared driveway, creating a more layered and private relationship between the public and domestic spaces. A high quality of planting has been provided from the outset, with native hedging to soften the parking and garden edges, a fruit tree in each garden, and specifically chosen plants for the steep banks. Existing trees have, where possible, been retained.

The external form and materiality is a contemporary interpretation of vernacular precedent – pitched roof volumes clad in a ‘wrap’ of hand-made hung tiles, enclosing gable ends in white-painted timber weatherboarding. Contemporary detailing brings a crisp finish, with concealed gutters and slender brick chimneys expressed on the side walls.

Internally the houses are particularly generous in comparison with conventional market sale homes, both in terms of floorspace, and ceiling heights. All the dwellings use the pitch of the roof forms to create height internally, with unit 2 having all its living accommodation on the first floor under a dramatic barn-like roof with exposed rafters and rooflights. There is generous built-in storage throughout and the plans are designed to be flexible as to future use. For example the first floor living rooms in units 1 and 3 could also be used as extra bedrooms or home offices, as the ground floor also includes a sitting room area.

The quality of specification and finish is exceptionally high despite the scheme being built on a limited budget. Oak and limestone floors are both hard-wearing and warm, with underfloor heating in all the living spaces. Stairs are detailed with individuality and care. To ensure high insulation and airtightness values, all external walls have a battened service void between the timber frame and internal lining, to avoid service penetrations into the insulation zone now and in the future. Air source heat pumps are used throughout and all rainwater drainage is dealt with on site, through permeable surfaces and soakaways.

Planning History

The site was sold with lapsed planning consent for 4no houses, the scheme was reworked by Nest/HAT Projects to create 4no dwellings of higher quality, more embedded in the landscape setting. The project received planning consent unanimously.

Project Team

Architect: HAT Projects
Developer: Nest Development
Planning Authority: East Suffolk

Development Data

Site size (ha):0.19
Date of completion:15/05/2017
Schedule of accommodation:1x3 bed / 3x 4bed detached houses
Tenure mix:100% private
Size of typical home:176m2
Parking spaces:9

*All information published is as provided by the awards applicant

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