Split House, Fairlight, Rother

Split House is a contemporary private house on a coastal hill top in Fairlight, Rother. The client, a couple well engaged with the local community,  wanted to build a through-life house that would engage with the surrounding landscape, with a construction process that would draw from the local trades.

Informed by the brief for such a sustainable home that would celebrate its hilltop site, Split House is defined by orientating key internal spaces towards one of the series of outstanding surrounding views: a wildflower valley, the immediate coast, the neighbouring village of Pett and the headland of Dungeness.

In responding directly towards these views, and sheltering from the prevailing winds, the volume of the building is naturally fragmented. The resulting form provides a clearly delineated public side, facing the adjacent houses and a wind protected private side, open to the wild flower meadow.


From winning the client led invited competition to submitting for planning approval took 6 months, with construction starting approximately one year later in June 2012. A stringent costing exercise was undertaken during this process, in an effort to reach the client's budgetary target while delivering a fixed area and provision schedule.

The building is a highly insulated steel super frame with timber infill set over a concrete pool base and slab, a method chosen as being the most efficient in dealing with the large cantilevered form. An external palette of slate, timber and render sits within a landscape framed with gabion walls. Through use of an un-lapped rainscreen cladding system, slate use was reduced by a third.

Through building form and specific material choices, including the slates and stainless steel clips set alongside deep timber-lined angled reveals, Split House creates an ongoing set of changing shadows and reflections throughout the day.

 Extending this split geometry into the landscape, terminated by the potting shed, creates a soft sense of enclosure, allowing for the provision of a private garden without visually breaking from the neighbouring wildflower meadow. The internal junction of the two forms split levels provides a protected snug.

Inclusive design/ through life construction:

Split House is designed as a future proofed house. Provisions such as an internal lift, wheel chair friendly circulation spaces, flush thresholds, showers with seating space and  WCs with space for future grab rails all serve to ensure the house is accessible and useable by all. 

Through life flexibility is hidden within the design. A section of the ground floor plan can be simply re-arranged to provide a small residence for a live in carer from the bedroom, bathroom and snug.

Architects: alma-nac
Client: Private
Location: East Sussex
Commisision: Competition
Project Completion: November 2014
Construction cost: £775,000
Structural Engineers: Heyne Tillet Steel
Project Engineer: Mark Goodbrand
Lighting design: Clementine Rodgers
Photography: Jack Hobhouse

Consultant team
Specialist Joinery: Olly Adams

Question Answer - Split House