The Winter Gardens at Swinhay House

The house itself was constructed under somewhat controversial circumstances. The government of the day had temporarily relaxed planning and building regulations within the green belt on the proviso that the new build home was of significant architectural interest. The project came within that particular window prior to the act being abolished but the building is certainly architecturally interesting both in its design and perhaps more-so its materials.

The whole ethos of this project from inception was high quality engineering and functionality where ‘Can’t be done’ was never an option for the architect or any of the contractors. The ‘Conservatory’ does in fact house a ‘Winter garden’ so the well documented issues such as Solar Gain and Insulation were interwoven into the whole fabric of the building using a combination of both natural and hi-tech mechanical solutions to combat these problems.

Whilst many architects may be presented with a fairly tentative brief this was certainly not the dilemma faced by Aaron Terry of Roberts Limbrick Architects. The client had sketched out the conservatory which in simple terms was akin to a Rugby ball profile curving in both planes. The many stipulations included no internal columns, despite being the length of a 5 a-side football pitch, and that all of the profiles within the roof framework were not to be any larger than 150 x 100mm. At its highest the conservatory reaches to 9.7 metres providing a Atrium space for three storeys of the main house at one end giving stunning views of the interior garden space. The glass facade includes triple glazed units 3.5 metres high.

The combined glass specification with ultra low UV targets , along with the argon filling and blinds within sealed units were beyond even the likes of Saint Gobbain and required sourcing from continental Europe. Whilst a whole raft of computerised climate control systems were employed, the building included a more fundamental approach with regards to wall thickness. The 700mm thick wall profiles may well have been akin to Roman specification and the tried and trusted method offered a substantial contribution t retaining an ambient constant temperature within the conservatory.

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