Nestled between Bath and Bristol, the market town of Keynsham is home to the carefully crafted Treetops development. Originally comprising a 1970s house and a Victorian villa, developer Rebecca Hales has transformed the existing site into a cohesive collection of conversions and new builds.
As director of Whitecroft Developments, Rebecca’s vision included building up to five new houses and dividing the villa into apartments. She also planned to convert the drab 1970s property, which she describes as an “unsuccessful 1970s take on Victorian architecture”.
The main challenge of the Treetops development was the steep hill on which the existing properties were built. After examining the site in detail, architect Jonathan Cheek advised Rebecca to limit the number of new builds to three. However, she still believed that it was possible to “work with the natural constraints of the site to provide positive design aspects.”
To deal with the hill, the three new builds were set into the ground by an entire storey, enabling future owners to walk out of their living room straight into the back garden. As well as creating a sense of light and space, this clever approach achieved compliance with building regulations and gave road access to the new properties.
Rebecca’s plan for the Treetops site was based on her belief that buildings of different eras can sit well side by side. However, she wanted the design of the new builds to move away from imitation, as the previous developer’s attempt to imitate Victorian architecture hadn’t worked.
Instead, Rebecca decided to create a link between the three properties by using similar external materials. For example, the new builds feature a single storey of stone, echoing the appearance of the Victorian villa. The same natural stone was used on the extension to the 1970s building.
While Rebecca’s main aim was to create a truly unified scheme, she also wanted to ensure that each property kept its character. For example, by dividing the Victorian villa into three large apartments rather than lots of smaller ones, it was possible to keep many of its charming period details.
Rebecca was also keen to improve the sustainability of the two existing properties. Adding contemporary cladding to the villa’s extension and the 1970s house killed two birds with one stone, improving their appearance and their ability to retain heat.
In addition, the architect recommended upgrading the roof insulation of the 1970s house and lowering the basement floor, so that further insulation could be installed.
He also added lining to the walls of the Victorian villa and re-laid its roof with high performance rigid insulation. Insulation was then added to the floors and the sash windows were brought up to modern standards.
Rebecca’s unwavering belief in the potential of the Treetops site resulted in an award winning development that’s also proving popular with buyers. The project was a Building Quality Award winner at the 2016 LABC Bath and North East Somerset Building and Design Quality Awards in the New Housing Category.