HOME­BUILDER

Our man in Fife finds in­spi­ra­tion on a Span­ish hill­side

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Growingpla­ces -

We still await the plea­sure of the plan­ners. The coun­cil is legally re­quired to rule within two months on the ap­pli­ca­tion we lodged be­fore Christ­mas to build a kit house on our or­chard and veg­etable gar­den.

Ad­ver­tise­ments have ap­peared in the lo­cal pa­per, list­ing our ap­pli­ca­tion as one of two “de­vi­a­tions” from coun­cil pol­icy which are un­der con­sid­er­a­tion (the other is for a de­vel­op­ment of 214 houses: which one would you guess is more likely to get con­sent?). At present, how­ever, there is noth­ing for us to do ex­cept dream.

And in such a vi­sion, the modernist house that I would love to build on our half acre of Fife hill­side ac­tu­ally ap­peared be­fore my eyes. I hap­pened, how­ever, to be in Ma­jorca, on a work­ing trip.

Un­til that mo­ment, no clear idea of the house we might build had ever emerged in my mind. The plan­ning sub­mis­sions that were drawn up for us by our agent, Allen Creedy, in­cluded sev­eral spec­i­men pho­to­graphs, all taken from the cat­a­logues of kit-house com­pa­nies. Most were so uni­formly mun­dane, so lack­ing in aes­thetic in­ter­est or in­spi­ra­tion that I would think it a form of cruel and un­usual pun­ish­ment to house delin­quents within those walls. Last week, how­ever, I drew the cur­tains of my ho­tel room and, through the mist across Ma­jorca, I saw the very house, set into the hill­side on the other side of the val­ley.

I tried to pho­to­graph it on my mo­bile phone but noth­ing ap­peared on the im­age ex­cept the hang­ing bas­kets on the ho­tel’s veranda. I tried to sketch it but – with draw­ing tal­ents that have not im­proved since be­ing de­rided as “agri­cul­tural” by my art teacher at school – it came out look­ing like a busted card­board box, col­lapsed on its side.

Let me try to de­scribe it. Imag­ine two sealed packs of A4 pa­per, rest­ing on top of each other, with the longer sides fac­ing for­ward. If you push the top pack back by an inch and a half to form a ter­race, you’ve got a model of this house.

That would suit our plot per­fectly. We could dig the lower floor into the land so that the roofline would not rise above the gra­di­ent of the hill­side. The build­ing could thus merge with the land­scape and not ob­struct the views of our neigh­bour fur­ther up the hill.

I al­ways imag­ined that, if we built on this plot, we would want to place the liv­ing rooms on the up­per floor to take ad­van­tage of the views across the Forth river to the Pent­lands and over the tops of the bridges to Arthur’s Seat in Ed­in­burgh. The bed­rooms, then, would be on the lower floor.

The house I saw in Ma­jorca would adapt su­perbly to that ar­range­ment. We could have four bed­rooms in a line, all fac­ing south with floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows that opened out on to a ter­race. Be­hind the bed­rooms, a cor­ri­dor could run the full width of the house with bath­rooms and wardrobes set against the north wall.

The rooms on the up­per floor could fol­low a sim­i­lar pat­tern – open-plan kitchen and din­ing area at the west­ern end, lead­ing to a cen­tral liv­ing room, with a walled-off of­fice at the east­ern­most end. All rooms would have slid­ing doors or French win­dows that open out on to a full-length bal­cony. The north side of this floor, in­clud­ing a cloak­room, could be walled with kitchen and din­ingroom cup­boards and book­shelves.

Fife be­ing a lit­tle damper than Ma­jorca, a de­gree of cun­ning would be called for to make rain­wa­ter run off the flat sur­faces of this house. And the cream con­crete walls of the Ma­jor­can house might stand out on a Scot­tish hill­side. To fit in with the land­scape, our ren­der­ing of this de­sign ought prob­a­bly to be con­structed in tim­ber and glass.

But it should be a straight­for­ward propo­si­tion for a kit-maker to fab­ri­cate this house. And, apart from dig­ging a ter­race into the hill­side, it ought to be sim­ple to con­struct.

Sweet dreams.

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