Nigel Philpott overcame a planning battle to build this bold, industrial-looking cliff-top home — encased in zinc armour, protecting it from the marine air.
Philpott House is bold, angular and unashamedly modern, unlike its more traditional neighbours. Built within a small development of houses located 1km west of the village of Down Thomas in Plymouth, the house enjoys a dramatic coastal panorama across Plymouth Sound.
Nigel had been house-hunting in the Plymouth area for some time and was accustomed to disappointment, but luck was on his side when he secured a dilapidated 1930s bungalow for £148,500 in March 2000.
He invited local architect Stan Bolt, who has an enviable reputation for designing creative, contemporary waterfront homes in the south-west, to design a modern house for this spectacular cliff-top site. The brief was for a two bedroom, low-maintenance home which would permit Nigel to spend the majority of his spare time sailing.
Replacing the existing single storey building with a new home proved challenging, and Nigel struggled for years to develop an affordable design. “I didn’t set out to make any kind of statement,” he explains. “I just knew that such a location deserved something special.”
Two storeys high and topped with a stepped flat roof, the sculptural new house is clad externally in a combination of render and durable pre-weathered zinc, designed to combat the harsh marine environment. Two en suite bedrooms, a utility and plant room are positioned on the ground floor, which resembles a white-rendered podium externally. This supports the steel framed, open plan living accommodation at first floor level, which may be accessed via a series of bridges both inside and outside the house.
“There’s a whole sequence of thresholds to cross as the building unfolds,” Stan explains. “Once inside you walk over another bridge above a double-height space, turn the corner on the landing and, finally, there’s the view.”
And what a view. Looking up through a frameless glass box rooflight reveals the sky. Before you an entire wall of glass panels may be slid back to further connect the pared-down, minimal interior to the rugged seascape beyond.
“The landscape virtually explodes in your face,” laughs Nigel. “Materials in the house are purposefully muted and quiet. There’s no need for too much drama inside when the outside scene is so entertaining.”