A unique self-build in Devon influenced by natural geometry

Taking inspiration from natural instances of the golden ratio, this spiral home, featured on Grand Designs in 2017, is a memorable self-build.

By Jayne Dowle | 3 June 2020

This unique house in Devon, first featured on Grand Designs in 2017, has a close connection with its idyllic surroundings.

blackdown hills - grand designs TV house 2017 - photo fraser marr

Image: Fraser Marr

One small object set Stephen and Elizabeth Tetlow on a path that led to the design of Oat Errish, their modern country house in the Blackdown Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Taunton, on the border between Devon and Somerset. ‘The inspiration for the shape came from an ammonite fossil that we had on our dining room table,’ explains Stephen. ‘The building is shaped in what is known as the golden ratio in both plan and section. There is found many times its found in nature too, such as in the spiral patterns in pinecones and the fronds of a fern. So, the idea was to design our home to reflect the nature around it.’

blackdown hills - grand designs TV house 2017 - photo fraser marr

Image: Fraser Marr

Prior to this, Stephen and Elizabeth lived in a nearby thatched cottage for a decade with 8 acres of land. When the couple decided to take the plunge and embark upon building their own house, they sold their cottage, retained most of the land for the plot and named their new home ‘Oat Errish’, after the field in which it  is built, as described on the tithe map of 1844.

The property reflects the undulating rural landscape it sits in; although strikingly modern, it is never at odds with the hills and fields all around. Stephen suggests this has been achieved through close collaboration with the architectural firm, Sadler Brown, and the planning consultant, James Ellis from Rural Solutions, who provided invaluable guidance. East Devon District Council’s Planning Committee passed the plans unanimously at a public hearing.

Watch now: Blackdown Hills, Devon, 2017