The Athletes House by AR Design: a balance between contemporary and traditional

Being an architect not only requires excellent design skills, but often also a lot of empathy in terms of being able to understand client needs and translate them into something tangible. In many cases, architects must also act as peacemakers and mediators, because customers – especially if they are in a relationship – do not always agree on the proposals they make. But as we always say, challenges are the driving force behind all great projects, and The athlete’s house was no exception.
This project – completed in fall 2021 by the Winchester-based company architecture firm AR Design – was born out of the clients’ shared desire to expand and transform their 1950s home, as they describe themselves as “Polar oppositesin the things they love and the way they live, as the architects note in their press release.
If they have agreed on the fundamental principles of what they wanted – namely expanding the living space on the ground floor to open up their seventy-year-old home to the garden and create an additional bedroom on the first floor, as well as the addition of a gym and a swimming pool – they had very different ideas about how it was supposed to be donewhether or not to retain the existing 20th century house and poor quality fragmentary additions to the sides and rear.
Tom Ford and Andy Ramus at AR Design therefore asked themselves the question: “What to do when a couple wants two different things; we want to live in a traditional house and we want to live in a contemporary house? Hence their proposal: to build a new house on the back of the old one in order to make the two clients happy. This decision involved reorienting the interior layout, with key spaces now located in the new construction physically connected to the garden.
The new volume contrasts the old box-shaped house with a series of walls and roof planes that define the spaces without enclosing them. The extension of the masonry from the interior to the exterior, large-format glazing with wooden slat sunshades, and continuous flooring were used as design tools to blur the boundary between interior and exterior. outside, in response to their request for a new dialogue with the garden, which features a lush green lawn and an impressive collection of tall trees. The swimming pool and gym, essential for triathlon training, are located to the side, with one end of the pool embedded in the new volume.
A circulation corridor runs along the intersection of new and old housing, helping to create a rational and logical spatial structure throughout. As always, the architects of AR Design made sure to pay meticulous attention to the existing georgian style house. They created a bold double-height entry space that houses a bent steel staircase and bookcase, contrasting with the period sash windows while giving a hint of the contemporary formal language of the rear addition. The architects say the rest of the house”has undergone a more traditional renovation, with each room updated for 21st century living standards. The bathrooms, bedrooms and sitting area have all been refurbished, retaining period features and sash windows in accordance with one of the clients’ preferences. All of this, of course, in compliance with the latest environmental and energy saving standards.
In conclusion, we can say that taking into account the wishes and differences of the clients, the extension and the renovation of AR Design have made the property a spectacular family home that perfectly suits their active lifestyle and their individuality.

Christiane Burklein

Project: design in augmented reality
Location: Hampshire, UK
Year: 2021
Images: Martin Gardner

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