Architect: Sandy Rendel Architects
Positioned proudly on the banks of the River Ouse, to the South of Lewes’ historic town centre, is this wonderfully individual five-bedroom contemporary home designed by architect Sandy Rendel. The house was completed in 2015, having featured on Grand Designs, and has since won some of architecture’s most prestigious awards including the RIBA 2017 National Award, a RIBA South East Award and the Sunday Times British Home Award 2016 for the ‘best one-off home in the UK’.
The house is located in the South Downs National Park beneath the chalk face of Cliffe Hill that rises up dramatically behind. The design is perfectly orientated to capture the expansive views up and down the peaceful river and across a low-lying meadow on the other side.
A simple palette of materials emphasises the building’s form and reflects the qualities of the site and its surrounding environment. The continuous Cor-Ten skin that covers the roof and upper floor, is an appropriate reference to the site’s light-industrial past and echoes the soft red-clay brickwork of Lewes’ attractive local vernacular.
The house is approached via a no-through road that runs south from the centre of Lewes. The scale of the building has been cleverly disguised by a break in the roof line. Two single-storey elements protrude from the front elevation towards the roadside, and frame an entrance courtyard that is shielded from the street by a mesh perimeter fence.
Once inside, a wide entrance hall opens onto an exceptional lateral living space which is flanked on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glazing that reveals the spectacular views. At one end is an open kitchen that centres around two large islands in pre-cast Lava Stone. Store cupboards are concealed behind a rough-sawn timber cladding that runs the length of the space. Sliding doors open from the kitchen to a sheltered terrace. At the far end of the main space is a seating area with sliding doors that open to a covered terrace and the garden beyond.
Also at ground level, and housed in the single-storey structures towards the front of the house, is a study, utility room with door to the gated car port, and a WC.
An open-tread oak staircase, that blends with the timber-clad wall of the main space, climbs to the first floor. The five bedrooms are all positioned on the riverside, making the most of the magnetic views. The master bedroom and guest bedroom both have en-suite bathrooms with beautifully arranged off-cut marble floors and walk-in showers.
Gardens extend laterally along the river bank on either side of the house. Preliminary discussions have been had with planning control over plans for a boathouse, garden studio and a jetty at the end of the garden. Consent is subject to the usual planning permissions, but the dwelling does have mooring rights on the river.
The house is located on South Street, a short walk from the centre of Lewes. The architecture of the town consists of a lovely blend of medieval, Georgian and Victorian streets, through which its famous bonfire night procession happens annually. There are a growing number of excellent coffee shops, gastro pubs and restaurants in the area, and the high street has a distinct lack of chain stores. The sea at Newhaven is around 15-minutes away by car.
Lewes Station is less than a mile away, and runs direct services to Clapham Junction and London Victoria in around an hour. There are also direct services to Gatwick Airport with a journey time of approximately 31 minutes. Lewes is on the A27, which connects with the A23 London to Brighton Road north of Brighton.
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.
Sandy Rendel Architects
Founded in 2010, Sandy Rendel Architects is an energetic award winning practice with a growing reputation for delivering well-crafted architecture and inventive design. Having been named RIBA South East Emerging Practice of the Year 2017 , they have worked in sensitive environments including Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks. The practice is committed to a sustainable approach to architecture.
Their work is informed by an enjoyment of both the craftsmanship of traditional construction methods and the opportunities of modern technologies and materials. This interest has been cultivated by a series of ongoing self-build projects that have provided direct hands-on experience of a wide range of construction materials and trades. These projects continue to offer a field for experimentation and research and develop our ingenuity as designers.