Jamie Falla Architecture designed an addition to a 1960’s bungalow overlooking Vazon Bay in Guernsey.
Etoile du Nord boasts a prominent position over-looking the picturesque Vazon Bay in Guernsey yet the best views from the original 1960’s bungalow were from the utility room. Jamie Falla Architecture were appointed to extend the property to accommodate two additional bedrooms and an open plan living area but the client’s primary aim was to create a contemporary piece of architecture which would take full advantage of the spectacular views and surrounding landscape.
Jamie Falla Architecture developed a sketch scheme with the client and worked closely with the local planning authority to develop a design of suitable scale and form for the sensitive site. A conservative planning authority coupled with the unique design approach resulted in the planning permission taking over a year to achieve. During the construction the building received considerable criticism in the local press from a section of the local community who believe that the island of Guernsey is not a suitable location for contemporary architecture. However, since the building’s completion the Environment Department and locals alike have openly endorsed the high quality of design and its positive contribution to the Guernsey landscape.
The buildings stepped form and layered use of materials are designed to break the bulk and massing into four distinct elements, which help merge the contemporary home into the surrounding landscape. The stonewall elements anchor the building to the site, while the new glass and white rendered rooftop pavilion is designed to be lightweight and blend with the sky. The stone forms and double-height glass element were sculpted around the old bungalow structure and refined throughout the design process.
The original property was constructed over a German WWII bunker, this caused considerable delay to the project as many tunnels were discovered during the groundwork’s. A concrete substructure spanned the tunnels, the super structure is made up of the original blockwall construction insulated externally, cavity blockwork and stone walls to ground floor and a lightweight steel frame construction for the first floor pavilion.
The project was beset by problems, firstly in the ground and then with the main contractor who determined the contract mid-way through construction. Jamie Falla Architecture aided the client in appointing a new contractor and supported them through the construction process. Etoile du Nord was on site for 25 months and its ultimate success is testament to the strong client-architect relationship that was maintained throughout.
In response to the clients brief, every opportunity has been taken to capture the spectacular views from each of the rooms and celebrate the morning and evening light. The careful construction detailing blurs the boundary between inside and out and three south facing light-scopes channel sunlight into the heart of the building, whilst also providing privacy to the road. Full advantage was taken of the sloping site and existing levels, the kitchen and dining area overlook the double height living space, therefore allowing sea views from both. The resulting building has more than fulfilled the clients brief, responds to its local context and positively contributes to the built environment in Guernsey.
Architect: Jamie Falla Architecture
Photography by Richard Brine