Case study: 2 Spa Cottage, Malvern

Spa Cottage has been one of the most challenging projects of the last few years for ADS Architects. The breath-taking views and the final result of the project made it all worthwhile. The family that owns the site purchased the old cottage many years ago and made wonderful memories here. As the old cottage was not big enough for their expanding family and had become out-dated, they decided to replace it with a new build to better suit their needs.  

This site lies just off of the upper Beacon Road, a few hundred meters from the top of West Malvern Hills and the Beacon which overlooks down westwards onto the valley. The land falls at roughly 45 degrees and on the edge of the western boundary there is a drop of about 40 metres which meets West Malvern Road. To reach the site there are two footpaths one off of Beacon Road and the other one from West Malvern Road. Even if it’s not a long distance from the carpark, it can be complicated to reach this location with deliveries for the construction site. 

We had to consider that the contractor needed to also demolish the existing building and take away from site the remaining rubble and debris from the demolition. It took a few months of research to evaluate all of the possibilities and in order to make it happen, we visited different companies to see if there were materials that could easily be carried or lifted to site whilst remaining energy efficient and strong. So, we thought of different solutions from using a crane from below, or even pouring concrete from above but all of those solutions just didn’t seem to work for this site. We also needed something less invasive in order to protect the natural environments because we were in an AONB, whilst also finding a way to keep costs down. 

For this reason, we chose to use insulation blocks made with recycled wood instead of concrete blocks as they were much lighter and already insulated. We used these blocks also as retaining walls to landscape and terrace the site to provide flat patio areas for the client to enjoy the outdoors. The builders carried most of the materials to and from the site with the help of a motorized wheelbarrow this was not possible for the big windows that we designed for the living area which had to be carefully carried by hand.  

The brief for this project was to design a modern house which would look out towards the west and take advantage of the breath-taking views that the site offered.

The obvious decision was to locate the bedrooms at ground level or the lower level and all open plan living area on the first floor to take full advantage of the surrounding scenery.

We completed the project in 14 months, and this was quite an achievement considering all the obstacles that the site presented us.