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Bucolic Modern: 6 Rural Residences That Bring Contemporary Flair to the English Countryside

Architizer is thrilled to announce the winners of the 10th Annual A+Awards. Want to earn global recognition for your projects? Sign up to be notified when the 11th Annual A+Awards program launches. 

For the city slickers accustomed to fast-paced urban life, the summertime offers a chance to unwind in rural environments and reset before returning to the bustling city. The English countryside is an important part of British life and culture; it is a blissful place where one can relax and enjoy the fresh country air. The rolling rural hills have everything one could need: heritage, greenery and privacy. As populations rapidly grow and small towns become big, holding onto the magic of the countryside is incredibly important. The British countryside is often considered quaint and charming, conjuring images of sweet little stone cottages and pastoral scenes. Yet, it is also home to an exciting array of modern residences that bring a new, intriguing dimension to the identity of rural England. 

Oxfordshire Residence 

By MeierPartners Architects, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom 

Photos by Hufton+Crow Photography

This home is located on a lush landscape in Oxfordshire, England, and was built with a focus on the spatial experience. Three guiding principles lead the construction of this country home: engaging with the site, connecting to the history and progressing towards sustainability. The design team embraced the typology of the traditional English Manor House and incorporated ideas of comfortable living and connecting to the natural world. The front façade is filled with glass to allow views of the open landscape, while the back façade is more closed-off and separates the dwelling from the dense woodlands. Carefully crafted views of the landscape were created by placing windows, walls and columns in distinct spots. 

The Cottage 

By Guy Hollaway Architects, Kent, England, United Kingdom 

An 18th-century cottage was transformed into a contemporary family home for an architect and his family. This home is an amalgamation of the architect’s past projects, ideas and desire to experiment. The dwelling is located in the Kent countryside with a traditional front façade, large back extension and pronounced British garden. The home balances old and new while creating a space for modern living. Internal brick walls, polished concrete floors and glass doors create a contemporary home. The home’s extension features a gym and cinema room and is clad in plywood. The plywood conceals storage spaces, a bathroom and murphy beds. The home is a true extension of the architect himself and highlights the possibilities of design when typical constraints — contractor problems, budgets, unrealistic requests — don’t exist. 

Home Farm 

By De Matos Ryan Architects, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom 

A 16th-century farmhouse has been renovated and extended into a live-able 21st-century dwelling. The main home and two outbuildings required a complete refurbishment and were entirely reimagined. An additional glass pavilion was added and houses an open-plan kitchen. One of the barn shelters was converted into a guest suite and faces a lush garden. The second outbuilding was redone to create an upper-level office space and garage. The design team carefully chose materials that match the setting and history of the site. The windows were replaced so that they match the original lights and the interior space was extensively restored to maintain the home’s original aesthetic.

Long House 

By bureau de change, Cirencester, England, United Kingdom 

This dwelling in the Cotswolds embraces rural vernacular and local materials to create a refined residential home. The interior spaces are all positioned around an internal patio clad in copper. The patio features a large tree and serves as the focal point of the dwelling. The exterior façade is a play on the traditional barn with a mix of stone and wood segments. The front barn was built by a local craftsman and its dry stone is heavy and solid. While the tall barn in the back of the home was built with a charred larch and is lighter in appearance. The materials chosen ensure that the home ages well and continues to acclimatize to the surroundings. 

New House at Walk Barn Farm 

By Charles Barclay Architects, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom 

Photos by David Grandorge

This timber weekend getaway is located on a former pig farm and was built with low-energy timber. The residence was designed to accommodate guests and is made up of three wings. The front elevation is closed up to resist the cold from the north, while the south elevation offered framed views of the surrounding heathland, pond and oak trees. Due to the site’s climate, a raised terrace is placed between the wings and offers views of the surrounding landscape while protecting the residents from the wind. The interior aesthetic is robust yet calm with steel window frames, concrete floors and a wood burner. The exterior façade is made with vertical cladding that is mounted on a red-brick plinth and speaks to the local farm vernacular.


By McLaren Excell, Dorset, England, United Kingdom 

The Merrydown residence is located in Dorset, England, and was originally a Victorian girls school. Initially, the layout spoke to its original use and consisted of a large corridor with a series of small bedrooms. To create a more family-conducive space, the design team completely stripped the building in order to increase the square footage, rearrange the layout and utilize the second story. The final result was a two-story home with three bedrooms, an open living space and a double-height kitchen. The home is intended as a weekend getaway, and because of that, the main focus was creating a large kitchen and comfortable living space that encourages gathering. Birch plywood, concrete and other natural-state materials were used to build the home. The material choice is simple and unadorned, which allows for flexible living styles. 

Architizer is thrilled to announce the winners of the 10th Annual A+Awards. Want to earn global recognition for your projects? Sign up to be notified when the 11th Annual A+Awards program launches. 

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