House on the Hill

House on the Hill is an ambitious residential extension and refurbishment inspired by Arts and Crafts houses. Sitting on a hillside overlooking Guildford, the existing 1930s house was in need of extensive renovation and refurbishment to make it live-able for a growing family. A design-led approach involved the creation of an inspiring and dramatic sequence of living spaces which connect to the landscape, and maximise views of the garden, the city, and the sky above. 

Learning from the Arts-and-Crafts vernacular embedded in the identity of the surrounding area, our first move was to extend the rear roof line down to the ground floor until it nearly touched the garden. Into this, we inserted two new ‘inhabitable’ dormer windows; one stretching from the ground to the first floor, creating a double-height living space; the second from first floor to second floor, containing a new staircase to two new bedrooms in the roof. We restricted our palette to materials already in the house, and re-used existing bricks, tiles and timbers where possible.

We carefully considered windows as ways of creating different kinds of spatial relationships between interior and exterior, and emphasized the contrast between the formality of the front of the house with framed views over the front garden and city; and the informality and sculptural quality of the rear, with 3-dimensional windows that can be dwelt in.  

Another key move was to position a new fireplace and chimney as a ‘pivot’ in the plan, a stake into the landscape around which new living spaces could be positioned at the rear. The chimney leads people through the house, under the stairs and into the garden room, where they are confronted with a double-height view of the landscape beyond, and views through the staircase to the top of the house behind them.

House on the Hill
Guildford, Surrey
Completed, 2015–2018



UPB Team

Alex Warnock-Smith, Project Director
Yonatan Buchhandler, Project Architect

Project Team

Constant Structural Design, Structural Engineers
Christie's Carpentry & Constructions Ltd, Main Contractor
Kilian O'Sullivan, Photographer