View over Crackington Haven from Grey Roofs, designed by Cornwall Architects The Bazeley Partnership

A view of your own

“We’ve found a house, but it needs a lot of work. Do you think it has potential?”

A question I’ve been asked many times by clients. I reply, “Well, what do you like about it?” And the client replies “The view, we love the view.”

As Architects in Cornwall, we are in the enviable position of working on properties with some of the most extraordinary views in the whole of England. From our own offices, we look across the undulating hills down towards Widemouth Bay knowing the next nearest land-point is Canada, where thousands of Cornish and Devonian people migrated in the 1800s. In the 21st century, many migrations are now into Cornwall and Devon, as people search for the UK equivalent of a place in the sun. And for those of us already here, we too celebrate our unique environment and all it offers.

Our role in this exploration of our environment is to assist people to make the most of their living and working spaces across the region, and at The Bazeley Partnership we apply a philosophy called Humane Architecture to achieve this.

I first became interested in Humane Architecture as a student at the University of Plymouth, where I was tutored by one of its key proponents, Frank Lyons. Humane Architecture, he explains, seeks to “enhance the quality of the environment for the occupants by creating buildings that are first, beautiful and secondly ecologically balanced.” It’s about the fine integration of home and landscape encouraging awareness and usage of sustainable natural resources so that: “Buildings that achieve such aims can create for their users a still centre in the midst of activity, hopefully giving them a refreshed and revitalised view of their world.”

This approach has informed my evolving aspirations with architecture in the South West and enabled me to support our clients to create their own centres of calm, invariably built around the view from their homes.

At my own home, I’ve recently completed a long term goal to restore and convert a dilapidated barn into our family home. What was originally a purposeful agricultural building had fallen into disrepair and over a period of some four years, (and 1460 nights in a rather ancient static caravan), we’ve finally completed the works.

My initial design ideas focused on making the most of the isolated hill top location, and we’ve been able to convert the space into a 2 storey structure, at last giving us the opportunity to look out towards the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the materials used have been reclaimed from the site and local stone and slate have been incorporated into the structure.

A warm, airy and light central living space benefits from a south-facing glass wall to maximise the sunshine, and for those stormy coastal evenings, a wood burner provides not only comfort, but becomes an internal design feature.

There is real pleasure in enjoying a house that we have designed and built ourselves, and I now know very well how our clients feel when they sit down for their first cup of tea in their finished home.

As architects, we are in a privileged position of vicariously experiencing this moment over and over again, as each client comes to us with a sketch, an estate agent’s property sheet or a photo of a Cornish sunset and we help them to transform their dream into a living reality.

The process of designing a home with its many hurdles, details, dilemmas and (sometimes) delays is complex and involves a myriad of specialists and skills. But central to this process, is the constant aim to ensure that each and every client has at its end their centre of calm; watching the tide turn in bay, or the sun set over the hills in a space they call their own.

Martin Back – Director, The Bazeley Partnership

As printed in Cornwall Today Magazine March 2013

Humane Architecture seeks to “enhance the quality of the environment for the occupants by creating buildings that are first, beautiful and secondly ecologically balanced. Buildings that achieve such aims can create for their users a still centre in the midst of activity, hopefully giving them a refreshed and revitalised view of their world.” Frank Lyons

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