It is quite a morale booster for an architect, having planning permission for a house they have designed passed on the basis that it will be “architecturally outstanding”.

But all it takes is one look at Whiteacres in Moreton Paddox in Moreton Morrell, near Warwick, to understand why the planning committee felt that it more than met the criteria of Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

This advises local authorities that they should avoid “new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances ”.

These circumstances include “the exceptional quality or innovative nature of the design of the dwelling.

“Such a design should:

– be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas;

– reflect the highest standards in architecture;

– significantly enhance its immediate setting; and

– be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.”

Whiteacres certainly ticks all these boxes.

It is the work of Emma Vergette and is the major development she has tackled since setting up on her own after 10 years as head of architecture with the British Council.

It was a job that saw her travelling all over the world and representing the UK through the buildings she worked on for the council.

“But I had always wanted to design and develop my own projects,” reveals Emma.

“I don’t know why more architects don’t do it.

“It is more satisfying if you are bringing in your own jobs.

“You are not answerable to a client and you are more in control of your own project.”

Whiteacres in Moreton Paddox in Moreton Morrell, near Warwick.
Whiteacres in Moreton Paddox in Moreton Morrell, near Warwick.

Whiteacres took around 18 months from the purchase of the plot to the completion of the build.

It was an unusual job from the start.

The houses in Moreton Paddox are actually constructed in what were once the grounds of a large Edwardian house of that name.

The house was knocked down after a mere 50 years. However, there are still remnants of the ancillary buildings and walls that have been incorporated into the residences that have replaced it.

“This plot was part of the old kitchen garden and has these amazing red brick walls that enclose the garden,” explains Emma.

“There are some of the footings of the old greenhouse and the winding gear that was used to open the roof lights.”

A neighbour had actually divided their garden and sold off the land that Whiteacres is built on .

But, keen to maintain their privacy, it was done with the proviso that any homes built on it shouldn’t be above the line of the wall – which meant the structure had to be single storey.

“Architects actually like that,” says Emma. “It means there is more of a relationship between the house and the garden.

“You lose that if you go up a level because you are more removed from it.”

What Whiteacres lacks in storeys, it makes up for in length.

Four bedrooms and two bathrooms inhabit the central section of the house which is book ended by large open plan living spaces.

To one end there are two rooms with a bathroom between which could make a self-contained annexe.

To the other is a drawing room and spectacular kitchen/breakfast room with all white units and integrated high spec appliances.

Like the greenhouses that went before it, glazing is a key feature of the design with full height sliding glazed doors that allow direct access to the terraces.

Whiteacres in Moreton Paddox in Moreton Morrell, near Warwick.
Whiteacres in Moreton Paddox in Moreton Morrell, near Warwick.

However, the overhang of the flat roof cleverly prevents these south-facing rooms feeling the full force of the sun.

With a house as well thought out as this, it is no surprise that great efforts have gone into making it as energy efficient and economical to run as possible.

It has high levels of thermal insulation and an air source heat pump with an auxiliary boiler that kicks in when temperatures really plummet.

Heating beneath the oak timber floor spreads the warmth across wider area than conventional radiators while double glazing to the windows helps keep it in.

The two wings have crisp white frames with wood cladding beneath while the bedrooms sit slightly back and are covered with Marley Eternit vertical cladding in shades of gray and white.

“With it being it being single story and with the way the rooms are positioned, you can get a feel for the size of it,” explains Emma. “You can look all the way through it inside along the spine corridor or from one living room to another across the terrace and garden.

“The real magic of the site though is this juxtaposition between the old walls and mature trees in the grounds with this very contemporary house.”

Emma worked with a Leamington based construction company, On-Site, and environmental engineer, GreenAct, on Whiteacres and is keen to do more with them.

Although Whiteacres would be a dream home for many, Emma says that once she has sold it she can look at starting her next project.

“You do become attached,” she admits. “As an architect you put a lot of yourself into it. I would love to live in this house. Maybe one day.”


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