The blending of old and new is key to the success of Spinners, a new home designed by PAD studio for Vicky and Andrew Roberts.

Andrew has a fascinating occupation as a custodian/manager/caretaker of a listed RHS garden, open all year round to the public. He needs to be on site all the time, but the existing single storey cottage owned by the previous manager wasn’t best suited to their lifestyle. Vicky and Andrew wanted a highly efficient build suited to the site with high-quality design.

PAD are an award-winning architectural practice and came with the added benefit of having had experience working with the New Forest National Park authority, who oversee all planning applications in the area. Wendy Perring (the ‘P’ in PAD) takes up the story: “Vicky and Andrew wanted sufficient space to accommodate their visiting children and grandchildren, and were open to a shape and form that was quite contemporary. We knew, however, given the relatively public nature of the house (it can be seen by garden visitors and is essentially part of the landscape) that the materials selection would have to be quite traditional.”

The Project

  • Name: Vicky and Andrew Roberts
  • Build cost: £495,000 (£2,475/m²)
  • Build time: 1 year 3 months
  • Location: Hampshire

Building with SIPs

Despite its traditional coat, this house is cutting-edge in terms of construction. Utilising a structural insulated panel (SIPs) walling and roofing system (enabling the rooms in the roof to be vaulted without the need for tie beams — in fact SIPs were originally introduced to the UK as a roofing panel) with large glulam (engineered timber) beams allowing larger spans, the interior spaces feel roomy and open.

The Design

High insulation levels and extra airtightness measures help to make it very energy efficient.

Spinners shows that contemporary design doesn’t have to follow the usual white render and cedar cladding template but instead embrace natural (and low-maintenance) materials to, effectively, satisfy both camps.


The first view of the new house is of a very traditional pitched clay roof tiled form and a brick wall — which hardly belies the contemporary style inside.


Part of the difficult design challenge faced by PAD Studio was the nature of the site itself — a garden open to visitors all year round with the house practically the first thing visitors see. Privacy for Andrew and Vicky was a key issue — hence the Ibstock brick wall hiding the courtyard.


One of the real highlights internally is the kitchen and dining space that opens (through bi-folds) on to a large courtyard — truly it feels like an outdoor room. Vicky and Andrew should be applauded for not oversizing any of the rooms — everything is perfectly scaled and homely, which can hardly be said of every contemporary house.

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