Once they had planning permission for a large extension to their existing home, our customers realised that this bigger house would be compromised in design and form. So, they decided to start again.
Unsure how to build an entirely new home and worried about falling foul of traditional construction horror stories, Veena and Anand found Facit Homes by chance.
“From the very first point of contact with Rhys, we felt more positive and inspired about our project. The constructive and aspirational conversation made a huge difference to our outlook. It gave us confidence that there was someone who could take us through the entire journey.”
To learn more about why Veena and Anand decided to build a new home, visit Introducing Vermas.
Their design brief
A design brief is a set of directions for a creative task. In this case, it was designing a contemporary, open plan family home.
Starting as a single set of instructions or requirements for a home, the brief gradually evolves during the course of the creative and collaborative process between our architects, designers and customers.
Privacy, security and technology were key parts of Veena and Anand’s initial brief. Creating a comfortable, spacious and family-led environment was important, in particular, one where they could enjoy entertaining.
One issue with the site was raised immediately. The very steep driveway had become an obstacle for elderly relatives and young children, as well as dangerous in winter weather. In order to create a safer and more comfortable entrance, we split the front garden into two levels; a lower level to allow entry from the road with parking on a flat surface and a higher one defining the entry to the home, connected via stairs in the landscape.
Every design decision involved great care and thought, from the general layout and spatial configuration to the nitty gritty details, like individual bathroom fittings. Our process encouraged this care.
Developing the design
Following initial conversations with Veena and Anand, a rudimentary brief and the scope of the project emerged. This included an overall budget, reference images of the types of interior that they liked and a room list with requirements for each room.
Our customers overcame concerns about maintaining control of the design process by gradually building up the design details with our in-house architects.
The evolution of the ground floor layout during design discussions.
Designing a home with Facit Homes:
Top level details. The first conversations between Facit Homes and any new customer always touches on the top level details of the project. They often include access and topography of the site, the size of the home, the ideal budget and what is most important to them. We can give an approximate price for a home based on the size and top level details at this stage.
Internal layouts. Once appointed to design the project, we start to draft concept floor layouts in order to define the spaces in the home according to the overall size. The form is drawn up as a concept based on the brief and developed during further conversations with our customers. Initial design discussions are focused on diagrammatic drawings, a simple but effective way to show the general layout without going into too much detail.
Adding detail. After agreeing the principles of the interior layout and the architectural design of the home, we assess the collection of spaces and add detail and definition to the floor plans, such as doors, windows and furniture layouts within a 3D computer model. This model can generate both conventional 2D drawings as well as far more complex 3D views.
3D walkthrough. Once the detail has been added, we present a 3D rendered visualisation of the home as it will be built. The power of our 3D software means we can show our customers around their new home from a first person perspective and they can get a feel for how it will work in reality. The beauty of this process is that it comes directly from our design model, rather than being a separate creation - we can discuss options and make changes to the model and the visualisation is updated in real time.
Finalising the design. Further design discussions are held to make more detailed interior decisions such as flooring, kitchen layout, window placement and lighting. This final step takes as long as it takes, varying from project to project.
Early in their project, Veena and Anand wanted to explore options for a basement and an additional small third storey. These were sketched out and collectively assessed for cost and planning restrictions, but eventually ruled out.
After agreeing the overall form of the home, the number of storeys and how it works on the site, our architects worked through each floor plan to refine the size and location of each room, discussing the relationship between the spaces and how that may (or may not) suit their busy family life.
At this point Veena and Anand were able to see the reality of the design decisions they had made so far. This is the point where most of our customers become more relaxed as they start to have a much better understanding of the project as a whole.
The videos in this article are a real time capture of the 3D computer model we created for this project. It is not a professional CGI video but shows the virtual experience that our customers get whilst we are designing their new home.
Bringing it all together
Developing the design brief with Veena and Anand established what is important to them and how they intend to live in their new home. They were specific about the way they wanted to inhabit the ground floor of their home, and the design responds to that brief. The design is very much a product of their direction.
Guests entering the home will walk past the feature staircase and through to the open kitchen and dining room, which also incorporates a small sitting area. Veena has admitted to being most excited by this space - the ‘hub of the home’.
As a family with African and Indian roots, they were inspired to create a spacious home; one that facilitates their love of entertaining. As Anand said,
"We wanted to know how to bring the best of the Indian and the western culture together in a contemporary way so we could have those family values, cooking and food, as the centre of gravity."
This large space is open plan with multiple areas to allow the family to spend time together, whatever they are doing.
The space connects to the garden via large bifold doors that ensure natural light will stream in. They will be able to open up their interior entertaining spaces in better weather and create one large outdoor dining area. A second set of doors to the left of this image opens onto the other side of the garden.
Moving through an impressive glass partition swing door (a design inspired by Veena’s Pinterest research), guests can relax in a separate large living room. The glass pivot door is designed to create a visual connection between the rooms, whilst allowing separation when required.
During one of the design meetings, Veena and Anand mentioned their love of congregating on the stairs (and in other spots) to catch up as a family. So when it came to designing the staircase, we worked with them to create one that would help facilitate such moments.
Digitally designed and manufactured by our team, the staircase has a laser cut, raw steel balustrade, wide base and solid oak treads of differing lengths to allow for those spontaneous conversations.
The first floor has the three en suite bedrooms; one of which, the master suite, also has a separate walk-in dressing room. Each bedroom has a wall of fitted wardrobes, designed to ensure the room still has plenty of space. This floor has a laundry room so that our customers don’t have to carry the washing up and down the stairs. The MVHR system will regulate the moisture in the air when they use the dryer in this room.
Moving up to the top floor, there is a soundproof music studio and a large games room that will also be used as a home cinema. Along the corridor there is a fourth bedroom, bathroom and study for Anand, as well as the plant room, where the environmental kit as well as extensive AV and data systems are housed.
The final design
With a form born from the internal layout, this three storey Facit Home has a dual tone exterior to break up the mass of the front elevation. Panels of textured Equitone cladding on the ground floor provide a contrast with the smooth render chosen for the first and second floors.
The lower level cladding is a "unique 3D shaped, through-coloured facade material that plays with light and shadow...Every moment of the day, the changing angle of the daylight gives the facade material a different aspect." With a linear, routed texture, it has the look and feel of cut stone.
The gambrel shaped zinc roof has two different slopes: a very steep side slope and a lesser sloped section at the very top. The gambrel design cleverly appears to be a pitched roof, which is in keeping with the local area and neighbouring houses.
This roof design allows higher ceilings on the top floor, providing extra living space in a cost effective way.
Our 3D model shows us the movement and angles of the sun in our design.
As mentioned in our previous journal post, the home has a wraparound garden which the new design makes into a much more usable space.
Originally, part of the garden was separated from the main rear space by a narrow corridor at the corner of the home so we decided to open and connect these areas. By cutting out the corner of the ground floor and overhanging the first floor above it, we were able to widen the walkway without disrupting the orientation or shape of the home.
Being set high above street level, Veena and Anand also wanted privacy from their new home. The landscape has been designed to have a fenced front garden and an automated gate, controlled from inside by their integrated smart home technology.