A comparison between two neighbouring examples of contemporary new houses in South Devon: The Boathouse designed by Adams+Collingwood Architects and Peter Zumthor’s Secular Retreat.

There has been a buzz in the press recently about Peter Zumthor’s first permanent UK project; the Secular Retreat near Salcombe in South Devon for Living Architecture. Undoubtedly an impressive architectural feat, it also makes an interesting comparison to the new build residential dwelling Adams+Collingwood Architects is designing and delivering just down the valley in the same Salcombe estuary.

Commissioned by Tristan Stone and his wife Liz of Stones Boat Yard, the Boathouse is a new building to provide on-site accommodation for the family. Designed and specified to a modest budget of under £200 per sqft, the project is a significant investment for this local business. Adams+Collingwood Architects worked closely with the Stone family to precisely detail every element of the new building in advance to ensure it comes in on budget, whilst delivering quality contemporary architecture that respects it’s rural context. Currently on-site and estimated to take less than a year to complete, the Boathouse is partly dug into the hillside creating a discreet profile, with a timber structure above ground using materials sourced through the boat yard’s marine timber suppliers. On completion later this year the Boathouse will be a unique, much needed affordable home for a local working family with a business critical to the delicate economy of the local area.

Created for an entirely different purpose to the Boathouse, on the other side of the Salcombe estuary the Secular Retreat for Living Architecture is an indulgent holiday home for guests to enjoy Peter Zumthor’s rare architectural vision. Constructed predominantly from concrete with a steel frame, it took approximately three years to build, presenting contractors with complex challenges on-site. Recently completed, the end result is an organic, irregular design that responds elegantly to both it’s materiality and rural location.

Both new dwellings are thoughtfully designed to sit within their beautiful south Devonshire setting and both architects’ are successfully delivering their very different client briefs. It is unusual to find two neighbouring examples of strikingly contemporary rural residential architecture, but at Adams+Collingwood Architects we are pleased to be in good company.

A side by side comparison:

Secular Retreat The Boathouse
Holiday home Unique but affordable home
Concrete and glass Timber, local stone and glass
3 years to build Under 1 year to build
Designed as you go Detailed precisely before build
High end budget Under £200 per sqft