Niall McLaughlin Architects has created a pavilion designed in the form of a greenhouse

Niall McLaughlin Architects has created a pavilion designed in the form of a greenhouse

Stirling Award-winning studio Niall McLaughlin Architects has completed a steel-framed prefabricated house with a pyramidal copper roof overlooking the tidal marshes on the Isle of Wight.

Dubbed Saltmarsh House, designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects, was one of thirty winners of the Royal Institute of British Architects' National Awards for 2023, and one of the few winning projects outside of London.

Picture of Saltmarsh House
Saltmarsh House was designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects

Designed to have a high-performance thermal envelope, the house consists of a long living and dining space surrounded by three smaller rooms – kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

The award-winning house is located in a conservation area to the north-east of the island, in the gardens of a Grade II listed Victorian house dating back to the 1860s.

Exterior image of Saltmarsh House designed by Niall McLaughlin ArchitectsExterior image of Saltmarsh House designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects
Located on the Isle of Wight

“The site features rich pastures and woodland containing oak, hazel and field maple trees,” the studio told Dezeen. “It overlooks the remains of an old tidal mill pond with Dover sand and the harbor beyond.”

The house is designed to 'float' above the coastal landscape of the site, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its distinctive mudflats, marshes, low-lying pools and sand dunes.

Exterior photo of Saltmarsh HouseExterior photo of Saltmarsh House
It is a prefabricated house

A winding path through tall grasses and fruit trees leads to the house, which sits at the bottom of a cliff at the water's edge. The house features four pyramidal ledges of dark brown copper that make up its roof.

“The distinctive roof shape references the repeating-roofed glass units of early 20th-century greenhouses that graced the kitchen gardens at the top of the hill,” the studio explained.

Niall McLaughlin Architects arranged the building around a 5 x 5 meter structural grid. Thin quadrilateral tubular steel columns rise to support the lightweight roof, which covers the interior spaces on all sides and provides shelter for the raised wooden platform on which the house sits.

Saltmarsh House was built using insulated prefabricated tapes for the roof and floor. Its steel frame was also prefabricated off-site. The three pods containing the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom were built off-site and lifted into place.

Interior photo of Saltmarsh HouseInterior photo of Saltmarsh House
Steel columns and trusses support the copper roof

The sea facing side of the house features three triple glazed windows. Designed with a mechanism that includes motorized counterweights, the windows can drop below floor level and open the entire southeast facade, allowing natural airflow through the building.

Inside the house, the building's skeleton is expressed, with the steel frame painted in a rich gold colour. The underside of the pyramidal roof is lined with wood and features louvered roof lights to help control solar gain.

Photo of the living areaPhoto of the living area
The inside was lined with wood

The walls and floors are clad in light wood, providing a warm and natural aesthetic. Custom shelving units line the walls and frame a geometric woven curtain wall. The wood burning stove is located at the end of the living space on a raised granite platform.

The interior also features integrated wooden benches along the southeast facade, which offer panoramic views across the tidal marshes.

Picture of the ceilingPicture of the ceiling
Louvered ceiling panels control interior lighting

“Together with the weathered silver surface, these materials reflect the warm tones and cool tones of the surrounding grasslands and swamps,” the studio said.

Niall McLaughlin Architects is a London firm founded in 1990.

Recent projects completed by the studio include a museum with a red brick tower and vaulted ceilings in Limerick, Ireland, and the new Stirling Prize-winning library at Magdalen College in Cambridge, UK.

Photography is by Nick Kane.

Project credits:

structural engineer: Neil McLaughlin Architects
Structural Engineer: Smith and Wallworks
Monitoring and Evaluation Engineer: Richie + Davin
Quantity Surveyor: KSP
Planning and Heritage Consultant: Montagu Evans
Landscape design: Kim Wilkie
Certified inspector: Sokotec
Main contractor: millimeter
roofing: Broderick roles
glazing: cantifex
electricity: First Avenue Electrical Projects
mechanical: Clarks Mechanical
Fire and security: Wessex
Steel frame protection: Hi Tech Surface Treatment Co., Ltd

(tags for translation) Architecture

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