Architectural designer Lincoln Miles, who transformed a Seventies bungalow on the Isle of Wight, has now created a series of innovative dwellings on the island.
What have you been up to since your house was first featured?
‘Since our grand design aired in 2010, things have been amazing. We’ve now sold our woodland retreat (above), which Kevin referred to as “the yoghurt house” [the corrugated cowshed sheets were painted with yoghurt to encourage the growth of moss and lichen], and my wife Lisa and I are about to embark on building a new home.’
What attracted you to the location of your new property?
‘It’s on the site of an old radar bunker from the Second World War, nestled into the landscape on the southern tip of the Isle of Wight, with amazing views over to France. We can imagine the secrecy and danger, and the important role of the bunker in the war effort. A new building will be connected to the bunker, which is being left as is, and will become a gallery space for Lisa’s artwork and sculpture. In 200 years, the bunker, which was active in the Battle of Britain, will still be in place. My building may be forgotten but the bunker will remain timeless.’
Will you be including eco friendly features?
‘The aim of the house is to be semi-off-grid by designing to passive house standards using high levels of thermal insulation and airtight construction. It incorporates its own water supply together with photovoltaic and solar panels, which are mounted into the earth bank of the roof, providing hot water and electricity to the power-wall storage battery. Other renewables will be biomass and heat recovery.’
It’s early days, but have you faced any design challenges so far?
'I’m creating a prototype glazing system with sliding glass doors that measure 3.5x2.5m. The design was borne out of the fact that high-end, aluminium-steel glazing with a powder coating doesn’t perform well in marine environments.’
How did you secure planning approval for the bunker house?
‘I proved it was a heritage asset and used Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework. This gives exemption from planning constraints for houses that meet specific criteria and are architecturally outstanding.’
You enjoy using new and unusual techniques. Where do you get your inspiration?
‘I’m interested in designing and developing prototypes: our exterior cladding system is a composite made from thermally efficient paper, which won’t degrade in a marine environment. The cladding is an intricately cut, perforated, abstract pattern that’s a collaboration between Lisa as a sculptor, and me as an architect.’
What projects have come your way since appearing on Grand Designs?
‘I designed the home that Bram and Lisa Vis built by the sea on the Isle of Wight, which was shown on the latest series of Grand Designs last September. The house has a dramatic, V-shaped cantilevered frame, and its sheer size and design is unlike anything else you can see on the island.’;
What other projects have you taken on?
‘I’m working as the architectural designer on the reinvention of a Victorian estate. We’ve gained planning permission for a 1,115sqm twenty-first-century house, which combines the main dwelling and an amenity building with a pool, orangery, kitchen garden and garage. It’s set on seven acres of woodland extending to a beach.’
What’s the main difference between building for others and yourself?
‘It’s nice not being centre of attention when working on other people’s designs. It’s a different set of principles, and as the architectural designer I’m not responsible for getting the mortgage!’ Lincoln Miles (07931 721 172; lincolnmilesarchitecture.com); Lixa Traxler (07931 617 429; lisatraxler.com)
Words: Andrea Manley, Photography: Rachael Smith/Julian Winslow