Ty Hedfan or the “hovering house” in Welsh, winner of the 2011 RIBA Manser Medal, is designed as the private residence of architects Jeremy Young and Sarah Featherstone. Influenced by the traditional Welsh long house, Ty Hedfan is both dramatic and peaceful.
“It is a beautiful site and we wanted to create a building that was sensitive to it,” says Sarah Featherstone, co-director of Featherstone Young. Having that in mind the architects built Ty Hedfan above the River Ysgir in Wales. It is the first house they designed together and it had a very strict specification that of a statutory 6m no-build zone along the riverbank. “It is a difficult site. The main feature is a steeply slopping riverbank with a stream running below. We decided that we could turn this into an opportunity because we were unable to build along the riverbank we came up with the idea of the cantilever.” she says.
Therefore, “one half of the house is sunk into the slope of the site-hugging the landscape and in a sense adding to it with a green roof and the other, more dramatic wing of the house features a cantilever over the stream that thrusts the living space into a group of mature trees,” says Featherstone.
The architects selected very specific materials such as locally sourced slate and stone following their decision to take a design cue from the traditional Welsh long house. “We wanted to use local materials that referenced local vernacular architecture -hence the extensive use of slate, stone and timber- while introducing contemporary forms that lend a modern twist to the traditional design,” Featherstone says.
Ty Hedfan was special to the architects as they wanted a beautiful home in the country to spend time with their families and because they used it to found out how they could work together professionally. “It has worked out well,” says Featherstone. “Throughout the house we have sought to use forms and materials that respond to their immediate surroundings. We are also interested in creating strongly contrasting forms and scale which heightens one’s sense of space and provides a range of rooms both intimate and lofty,” she says.
Words Stefania Vourazeri