Architect: Lynch Architects
This three-bedroom house on the North Norfolk coast is a rare find – it combines a magnificent location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with modern architecture of the highest quality. Formerly a 1950s bungalow, the house was comprehensively remodelled and extended by Patrick and Claudia Lynch of Lynch Architects in 2002-03. Since then a striking mirrored studio building and car port, also designed by Lynch Architects, have been added.
The house occupies a private and spectacular site in just outside Burnham Market, at the end of a quiet lane past several bungalows. It boasts fine views and is in an ideal spot for exploring the wonderful North Norfolk coast, which is home to some of the finest beaches in the UK, including Holkham and Wells. The popular town of Burnham Market is within walking distance, and Brancaster Staithe and Wells-next-the-Sea are both a short drive away.
The house has an entrance hall and kitchen at the front, leading to a breakfast area and, round the corner, a dining area or study area. Glazed double doors open out from the breakfast room onto the garden.
Beyond the dining room is a fantastic living room at the rear that spans the width of the building. One half of the living room is almost entirely glazed on both sides, with a double-height space to accommodate a high chimney with a skylight at the top so that the moon casts shadows into the void. There are stunning far-reaching views of a water meadow that leads down to the salt marshes, and a windmill. During the summer, the sliding doors can be opened so that the landscape becomes an extension of the house itself, and there is a terrace for barbecues. There is also a large master bedroom, bathroom and cloakroom on the ground floor. Upstairs are two further bedrooms beneath the pitched roof.
This house has been widely published and is covered extensively in a book entitled The New Country Style: England (by Ingrid Rasmussen & Chloe Grimshaw). Referring to the use of materials, it says: “The exterior of the house is made from black-painted bricks and timber, inspired in part by the angular shape of local Norfolk windmills. Patrick [Lynch] suggested cladding the interior of the house in birch plywood to give the house more warmth and structure.” At ground level, the floors are made from poured black concrete, with under-floor heating.
Lynch Architects are a celebrated London-based practice. The Guardian’s architecture critic, Jonathan Glancey, gives this assessment of Patrick Lynch: “Open to history and tradition, the grain of existing streets and cityscapes, Lynch is an open-minded and thoughtful architect with a deft touch. His work is not extreme, yet it is rich in terms of spatial experience.”
Burnham Market is a thriving village that offers a remarkable range and quality of independent shops. The nearest train station is King’s Lynn, which runs services to London King’s Cross in approximately 90 minutes.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
Soon after the completion of this project, Kieran Long (now Senior Curator of Contemporary Architecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum) described the transformation of the house from unprepossessing bungalow to architectural masterpiece in Icon magazine:
“The site was previously occupied by a banal and ugly bungalow, built by a developer from a pattern book of designs as part of a mini-estate. Despite its name, the old building on the site had never had a view of the marsh. The new house occupies the plot of the pre-existing building, recreating the form of the bungalow, but radically reworking the façades to provide larger openings and glass doors. The two timber elements, one housing a studio and general purpose room and the other forming the entrance lobby, provide the longed-for views of the adjoining water meadow.
The main room, with its soaring, 7.5m-tall chimney, is disorienting in its scale, but the room inside is given narrative by the simple composition of window, chimney and hearth. The large window in the west-facing wall allows the evening light to enter the building. At certain times of the year, this light falls across the fireplace as the sun begins to set, uniting time, home and ritual in a play of natural light. The high roof, with its oculus at the top, provides a view of the stars at night, and acts as a sundial in the day.
The house is lined in plywood, a material that… is textural and diverse here. The low part of the studio room uses ply for the walls and the ceiling, and the small step down into this space from the existing house helps the thin material to have mass. The soffit seems to press downwards, creating an almost cave-like atmosphere. This is thrown into relief by the tall part of the room, with its oculus that completes a play of scales between the low space of the east end of the room, the strangely enlarged proportions of the west façade with its brick chimney, and the scale of the landscape and the huge skies in this part of Norfolk.
The floor of the house is concrete, with underfloor heating throughout, and this forms a ground datum on which the building sits. A concrete ramp rises up to the entrance, and at the back of the house a patio extends from the large glass door looking out across the marsh. The new wing with its distended roof shelters a more formal south-facing courtyard, domestic in proportion.”
Lynch Architects is an award winning practice based in Hackney in London. Recipients of The Young Architect of the Year Award 2005, they were also exhibited in the official selection of the Venice Architectural Biennale in 2012, and in the Irish Pavilion in 2008. Their work ranges from individual houses and residential and commercial developments to arts and community projects. Working at a variety of scales, from master plans to interior design, they pay close attention to the social, ecological, historical and economic aspects of places. They believe that good design derives from the search for a poetic economy of means.