Cove Ridge is a contemporary interpretation of the area’s whitewashed walls and slate roof vernacular that dots the hillside. Its form is enfolded into the existing cliffside to minimize the exposed mass yet remains open to the sea and its periphery to indulge views. From within and around the home, horizonal views are played against portrait. Oversized windows throughout, including an extra-large zenith skylight, side hung rooflights and house-width, full-height sliding glass create an ever-present inside/outside threshold. They keep neighbouring properties out of eyesight, whilst allowing light to penetrate and the area’s spectacular views to open.
Director Phil Coffey said, “At Cove Ridge we started by thinking about how we could capture the views of the landscape and amplify our connections to it through openings in the building’s mass. We wanted the architecture to evoke the feeling of sitting in a cave looking out to sea, so we thought about those basic senses – feeling the light on your skin, hearing the waves crash and the wind howl. By imagining the building as a solid slate roof mass sitting on a continuous, protective white wall allowed us to carve out very particular ‘view finder’ openings that locate Woolacombe Beach and Baggy Point, the sky, the horizon and glimpses of the natural rock formations found on site.”
The floor plan of the home is flipped upside down from conventional residential design, with the prominent living areas at the top level and more intimate spaces on the ground. Upon entry of Cove Ridge, the large open plan entrance hall, tv area and ‘Bay Room’ allow for framed views toward the sea. A study is nestled under the stairs, against a glass exposure of the natural rock, and the three family bedrooms and bathrooms are contained at the rear, timber ‘annex’. They are tucked into the rocky slate outcrop, isolating them from the rest of the house for privacy. This zoning also helps to control the building’s energy usage throughout the year. A central, grand oak staircase leads up to the kitchen and main family on the first floor level, tucked within the complex geometric steel roof and bordered by a cantilevered terrace 77 metres above sea level. The roof form was driven by the site’s shape,
The interior and exterior materials choice – white render, ash joinery, slate grey polished concrete, rough cast grey render and black slate – add depth and texture, whilst rooting the home in its geology. Inside, the play of bright materials that reflect light and dull materials that absorb light create a home of visual intrigue, admitting or omitting the sky and horizon. Cove Ridge’s exterior walls were constructed with timber SIPS, which are lightweight and low-carbon, manufactured off-site for quality and rapid assembly. Outside, the natural landscape flows generously across and through the site, peaking into the home at key moments. Combined with significant architectural moves such as the overhanging roof, dramatic stair, glazed, rock-facing walls and bifurcated plan, a profound layering effect connects the inhabitants to their immediate environment.
Designs for the sight and sound of sea
The key spaces in the house have been arranged around views to the surrounding landscape. The bedrooms to the east and west have views to the headlands at sun rise and sun set. The kitchen on the upper floor avails of panoramic views of the sea and the coastline. The Bay room on the ground floor has a framed view to Combesgate beach.
Revealing the view from within
Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows are carefully placed to reveal stunning views back to the rock formations of the abandoned quarry which was previously located on site.
Complex thresholds/ local vernacular
The house is a contemporary interpretation of the area’s white washed walls and slate roof vernacular. Its form hugs the existing hillside to minimise the exposed mass of the house, and there will be no intervention outside of the original home's footprint.
The exposure of the location and the views to and from the site in such a prominent position encouraged us to explore the depth and layering of walls, roofs and reveals creating an entirely site-specific response.