New Forest House

A crafted rural retreat away from city life, the New Forest House is designed to heal the body and nurture the soul. Restricted in size by planning, the focus of the home is natural light, nature, and texture. A generous open plan living dining room overlooks the swimming pond and forest beyond. The physical barriers between inside and out are dissolved when the glazed living room walls are slid back, hidden in secret pockets within the walls. Nature is invited in.

Project & Environmental Data

Project Info

  • Location: New Forest, Hampshire
  • Designation: AONB, National Park, SSSI, Conservation Area
  • Collaborators: White and Reid, David Bennet Concrete Consultancy
  • Image Credit: Nigel Rigden


2011 RIBA Awards, Shortlisted
2010 Daily Telegraph/HBR Awards: Best Residential Project UK, Winner
2010 Grand Designs Awards, Runner-up

Environmental Data

  • Energy Efficiency
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Insulation
    1 2 3 4 5
  • Thermal Mass
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Airtightness
    1 2 3
  • Solar PV
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Embodied Carbon
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Heating/Hot Water
    Electric Gas Ground Source Air Source
  • Solar Thermal
    Yes No
  • Rain Water Harvest
    Yes No
  • Ventilation
    MVHR Natural
  • Energy Storage
    Yes No
View across the natural pool to the crafted rural retreat and its inhabitants

The concrete wall of this crafted rural retreat, extends through the building above and below ground, is imprinted with the texture of local wood and frames a dramatic entrance sequence. The basement doubles the size of the footprint and employs cunningly positioned light scoops that flood the subterranean spaces with daylight, both surprising and serene. Carefully crafted to create a sense of unique belonging to place, this is a home loved by its owners and all those who visit.

Nestled in the heart of the New Forest National Park, this eco-home is as stylish as it is sustainable. It’s almost entirely self-sufficient and has got to be since access is via a mile and a half of dirt track. Rainwater is recycled and a fully refurbished well supplies drinking water. Photovoltaic panels generate electricity to run the ground source heat pump and there are solar panels and wood-burning stoves.”

‘What is very satisfying is that we tap into all the resources that are on-site, from taking water from our own well to the solar thermal panels heating the water,’ explains the owner. ‘We are actually using our own environment to run the house.’

. . . Grand Designs Magazine . . .

We believe that beauty is measurable and that even the most constrained project or site can be beautiful. Often, embracing constraints is a catalyst for inspirational resolutions. We respectfully celebrate the ‘question’, which has resulted in our reputation for bringing success to challenging and complex sites and project briefs.

Grounded in people and place
Inside the crafted rural retreat with a view over the natural pool

"PAD studio’s energy and enthusiasm for our project shone through and it was an easy decision to choose to work with them. Their approach to the design and building process meant that we were fully involved so that the project was a real collaboration by all parties. As a result, our house was built on schedule and to budget but more importantly, it is a place that we love living in."

. . . Private Client . . .

PAD studio’s concerns are with the psychology of human comfort as much as more quantifiable needs for heat, light and sound. The requirement for the home to provide a safe protected environment is demonstrated most in the use of an earth berm which, coupled with an unusually thick green roof, allows for the rooting of indigenous forest species, part of the lineage of earth-sheltered structures that date back 5000 years to Skara Brae in the Orkneys.

. . . Martin Pearce, Architecture Today: EcoTech . . .

Timbers in this crafted rural retreat source locally

PAD studio’s New Forest House offers reassurance that, faced with a seemingly infinite choice in our own time, architecture needs to be grounded in the timeless verities of the past and the needs of the human psyche.

. . . Martin Pearce, Architecture Today: EcoTech . . .

Aerial of new forest house AT awards finalist

As Martin Pearce notes, this crafted rural retreat is grounded in people and place;

"For PAD studio the clarity of an architectural idea is imperative, and a simple concept rigorously carried through into every part of the design is enormously powerful. However, such an idea need not be overpowering when, as here, it can generate rich contrasting experiences that delight and intrigue. Above all the house reinforces the timeless importance of a profound understanding of site and an attitude that allows choices to be guided by the unique and particular nature of a location. If anything, PAD studio’s New Forest House offers reassurance that, faced with a seemingly infinite choice in our own time, architecture needs to be grounded in the timeless verities of the past and the needs of the human psyche. Today more than ever, we need to look backwards and inwards in order to go forwards."

. . . Martin Pearce, Architecture Today: EcoTech . . .

Textured aerial of the sedum roof and surrounding woodland