Spence House

Sited on a three-acre plot of oak woodland close to the Beaulieu River in Hampshire, this Grade II-listed building is a paradigm of the Scandinavian modernist architectural style of the 1960s. Designed and used by British architect Sir Basil Spence, the current owner wanted a sensitive extension in keeping with the original design.

The original two-storey structure was cut into a sloping greenfield site and founded on a split level slab. A 150 mm-thick ground bearing slab was partnered with a reinforced concrete blockwork retaining wall which supports the slab above in areas where the ground level was substantially lower than the slab level.

In terms of the existing superstructure, two load-bearing brick walls at ground floor level were laid parallel to the contours, supporting two laminated timber beams which cantilever out and support the structure above. This upper level of the building is made from timber and clad externally with cedar boarding. A swimming pool had been installed at the rear of the structure; over the years this had suffered from considerable settlement and cracking.

The new structure was simple, in line with the concept behind the existing building; it comprised four steel portal frames with a cranked top member, linked via cross members that provide portal action as well as support for the timber roof. The small link bridge connecting to the main house, about 2.5 m in span, was clad with full-height glazed panels. So as not to overburden the deck we hung the glazing from a stiff stressed-skin timber panel roof, fixing this to the flexible deck through slotted holes.

We demolished the old swimming pool and rebuilt above it. Years of compression under the dead weight of the old pool had consolidated the fill, so settlement was less likely in this case. The new swimming pool was a freestanding RC structure, with deep ‘toes’ installed beneath the southern retaining wall to withstand pressure created by adjacent ground movement.

A sensitive extension to a Grade II-listed modernist house

Beaulieu, UK
Private client
John Pardey Architects
£ 250,000

  • 2001 RIBA Award
  • 2001 RIBA South Chairman’s Award