“Viking longhouse meets New York loft apartment.” This is how Ed Chipperfield describes the family home he and wife Anna have built in rural Buckinghamshire.

Planning Permission

The Chipperfields found a building plot which had been split into three; Ed and Anna’s parcel of land originally being an orchard on the site.

While the plot came with outline permission for a more traditional timber frame house, Ed and Anna knew that they were after a more contemporary design, and although a covenant restricting the house’s height had been placed on the plot – which sits within a Conservation Area – the new design was passed by the planners.

Project Notes

  • Name: Ed and Anna Chipperfield
  • Build cost: £270,000 (£1,588/m²)
  • Build time: 1 year 1 month
  • Location: Buckinghamshire

The Design Brief

“I like history and I have a bit of a thing about Viking longhouses,” explains Ed of the concept behind the new house design. “We have friends with a house on the Isle of Skye and really like the style — they offer an open plan, long but useful space, with the bedrooms located in the eaves (a happy coincidence given that there were planning restrictions on the ridge height of the new building). So that was our influence.”

The couple chose architect Kieran Hawkins, a friend of the family, from Mailen Design to come up with the design for their new home.

The Build Process

The couple employed Les McKeran from Link Development & Groundworks as the main contractor, who worked alongside Ed and Kieran throughout the build.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) were chosen as the method of construction for the new house, with Ed and Anna keen on the idea of the fast build times they offered as well as the superior thermal performance. They were erected to watertight stage in only a week.

Eco Credentials

“The concrete floor has been poured extra thick (around four feet) and provides a huge thermal mass. The windows bathe the concrete floor all day with heat and in the evening they are so warm underfoot that everyone assumes we have underfloor heating anyway,” Ed explains.

The house is actually heated via a tiny condensing gas boiler and radiators, and due to the construction, with an additional layer of insulation in the walls, the couple find themselves with heating bills of around just £300 per year.

Double as opposed to triple glazing from Velfac has been used throughout as the couple simply didn’t feel the need to overspecify.

Home office

On the ground floor, partitions featuring glass and ply form a separate yet connected home office for Ed, a commercial copywriter, to work from home. Ed’s office is divided off the living space — he got the idea from industrial spaces where the foreman has an office sectioned off from the main areas

Stairwell with full- height glazing

Light floods into the stairwell thanks to the expanse of glazing — overlooking the double-height space are two ‘hatches’ which open out from the master bedroom and Jasper’s room

Galleried landing

A bridge over the entrance hall connects the master suite with the other bedrooms and family bathroom, and similar raw materials have been used in this area of the home too


For much of the raw, clean style that has been achieved throughout the internal spaces, Ed praises their carpenter who crafted all the exposed ply features of the house — including the ingenious birch ply cover for the extractor hood in the kitchen, and the built-in elements that make up the bathroom. The sanitaryware in the master en suite is from Duravit

Entrance hall and living space

The raw, industrial feel is continued through the birch-faced ply walls, staircase and finishing touches, whilst the huge Velfac windows and double-height hallway bring in plenty of natural light. To break up the open plan arrangement the floor levels have been varied between the kitchen diner and the living area — the living area sits 30cm below ground level, with the step up to the kitchen providing a handy extra place to sit when required

Seating area in the open plan layout

The open plan ground floor allows for light to flood through the spaces while also allowing the couple to keep an eye on their son Jasper, who is five. In the living area a Morsø stove offers a heat source

Minimalist IKEA kitchen

The IKEA kitchen, like the rest of the house, is minimally fitted out, with a crisp white island unit housing the hob, oven and storage, central to the space. Elsewhere, open ply shelving and a distinct lack of clutter define the room

Third floor bedroom in the eaves

With the three bedrooms located in the eaves to maximise space on the ground floor, the upper level offers a cosy space to retreat to without feeling cramped

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