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Villa Biophilia in Milton Keynes

31 May 2021

Villa Biophilia – Paragraph 79

Architects: PAD Studio

Location: Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, Southeast England, UK

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

This Paragraph 79 lakeside house was a close collaboration of consultants to develop a specialist and unique family home specifically designed to bring nature right into the heart to enhance the emotional wellbeing of its owners, a busy tech entrepreneur and his young family. From the secluded country road that is accessed from the proposal is barely visible blending seamlessly into the surrounding and enhanced landscape in which it sits.

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

Whilst the site had a pre-existing fire damaged structure the plot fell under the strict planning restrictions of Paragraph 79 and a collaborative process of design and research was required by the design team.

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

What was the brief?
To design a unique family home that complies with the Paragraph 79 policy in the National Planning Policy Framework which mandates that the property be of exceptional quality and/or an innovative nature.

What were the key challenges?
The project was hugely constrained by the Paragrah 79 (former paragraph 55) section of the NPPF relating to building a new isolated dwelling in the open countryside. This policy allows the possibility to build an unprecedented home on a piece of land that would otherwise be unsuitable for development, this is an exemption clause against the majority of national planning policy which is strongly weighted against development in open countryside.

The clause mandates that unless there are ‘special circumstances’ such as exceptional quality or the innovative nature of the proposal then local planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside.

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

What were the solutions?
Seeking to make this project truly exceptional PAD studio drew on the phenomenon of Biophilia. Biophilia helps explain why crackling fires and crashing waves captivate us; why a garden view can enhance our creativity; why shadows and heights instil fascination and fear; why animal companions and strolling through a park is restorative and healing. Through the adoption of several biophilic principles this Paragraph 79 house offers the owner both a complete refuge from and total immersion in the landscape and relates intimately to its site and wider context. The proposal offers complete refuge from and total immersion.

The position of the project on the site was considered and carefully planned to foster the journey from entrance to the building as a celebration of the lake above which it sits. With the sloping site choreographed to enhance the dramatic effect of the entrance courtyard and double height framed view of the lake through the atrium.

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

Bedrooms are carved out of the masonry base each with its own private terrace which unfolds directly into the lakeside garden whilst elements of the stone rise dramatically through the house connecting the ground floor and lightweight first floor becoming a fireplace, gallery wall and kitchen island.

Elevating the main living and family spaces to the first floor they are exposed to natural light and extended views, a contrast to the solidity and refuge of the ground floor. The overhanging roof anchored by the stone provides solar shading and shelter to the terraces which connect into the kitchen garden that sits above the spa and guest wing ensuring a continued physical connection to nature throughout the property.

Extending from the ground floor the terrace becomes a meandering boardwalk which circumnavigates the perimeter of the lake with branching pontoons floating on the lake to pause and reflect. Viewed from across the lake the house seemingly hovers, floating on the landscape to allow for flooding a response to the rising water levels.

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

What are the sustainability features?
The project seeks to be carbon positive and working to the RIBA climate challenge 2030 objectives, which far exceed the building regulation standards.

The adjacent lake provides further opportunity. PAD studio employed a closed-loop hydronic heat pump system to harness the inherent energy stored in the lake. It felt intuitive to the practice that a house set within a floor plain and adjacent to a lake to provide energy to the project. Whilst an engaged landscape proposal seeks to enhance the biodiversity and ecology of the area which has been stripped away from the years of trout fishing.

Deep overhangs to provide natural solar shading, high performing triple glazed windows, locally sourced limestone and a highly insulated timber frame construction are design into with these aims in mind. These high insulation levels greatly mediate the temperature fluctuations and provide a stable comfort level internally.

Villa Biophilia Milton Keynes

Villa Biophilia in Milton Keynes – Building Information

Architects: PAD Studio
Landscape Designer: SEED Landscape
Planning Consultant: Hughes Planning
Ecological Consultant: Ecology by Design

Project size: 750 sqm
Site size: 10000 sqm
Project Budget: £3000000
Building levels: 2

Images: Nuno Silva

Villa Biophilia, Milton Keynes England image / information received 310521 from PAD Studio Architects

Address: Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, southern England, UK

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Website: Milton Keynes, England