"No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” 
Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

This family retreat near Padstow is a progression of our work for Stepping Stone House and Blackbird. 

Our clients are a family with 3 young children. They envisioned a house that can relate to its surroundings and embrace the unique characteristics of the site - transporting those within to another world.

As in much of Cornwall, the landscaping around the site is characterised by the use of dry stone walling. This craft will be used both internally and externally. The external walls of the lower level will be entirely dry stone wall with small openings formed for windows. The external dry stone walls will, over time, become inhabited by grasses, lichen and moss - further blending in with the surroundings. 

The proposed copper roof makes reference to Cornish copper and tin mines. It also allows a delicate and light eaves profile. This high quality, long lasting material will weather and improve in character with age and in harmony with the natural colours of the woodland. We are currently exploring the use of photovoltaic roof tiles to harness the large surface area of the overhanging roof - much like the spread wings of the Condor, to which the house owes its name as it perches on the exposed rocks of the quarry about to take flight. Surely a rare sight in Cornwall but we like to think that, amongst the special qualities of the local microclimate, a wandering family of Condors would feel at home here. 

An integral feature of the landscape proposal is for a wildlife pond at the foot of the quarry.  The pool will encourage biodiversity within the site along with indigenous plants which will be (re)introduced to re-wild the existing site and its flora and fauna. The pool also serves as a water source heat pump. A continuous loop of submerged pipework harnesses energy due to temperature differentials. It can then provide underfloor and water heating for the house. The highly insulated and air tight house makes this possible and also allow the use of an MVHR system to ensure temperature balanced fresh air at all times - except in the summer when there is the opportunity to reduce reliance upon the heating and ventilation systems. 

Cedar will be used in the form of slats to the upper level, window shutters to the lower level and also to frame the fixed and sliding glazed elements on the facade. It was chosen for its natural durability and weathering qualities which will protect the building and also soften the edges of the the glazed elements.

The lower / secondary level  of the proposed house relates back to the curve of the natural contours and existing retaining walls on the site. The house appears to be part of the hillside and has a more subtle relationship with the topography.  

The indigenous woodland will be protected, encouraged and preserved by the positioning and form of the building engaging the house with the woodland surroundings. Trees include Oak, Sycamore, Ash, Hawthorn and Elm. There is also a large Canadian Pine and two large weeping Willows, all of which are being retained. 


CGI visualisations by David Schnabel in collaboration with HAMISH & LYONS. 

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