Cleverly concealed self build home in Dartmoor National Park

Architect duo Eilir Sheryn and Frederieke van Ellen built a cleverly concealed home in Dartmoor National Park.

By Nichola Owen, Photography: Richard Downer | 20 December 2017

Architect duo Eilir Sheryn and Frederieke van Ellen built a cleverly concealed home in Dartmoor National Park.

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After 18 months of renting while scouring the Devon countryside for a property, architects Eilir Sheryn and Frederieke van Ellen and their four children finally came across a tired Fifties bungalow in Ashburton, near Newton Abbot, for which they had great plans. ‘It was a scrappy post-war building, set in half an acre of walled garden. It gave us the perfect opportunity to build our own home,’ recalls Eilir.

Although the house was set in a picturesque location, surrounded by the Dartmoor National Park and situated within a conservation area, this was also a potential burden as Eilir and Frederieke were hit with a double whammy of planning restrictions. While most potential buyers would hesitate at the prospect of building in a controlled zone, Eilir wasn’t put off by the challenge. ‘I have a great relationship with the local planning authority, as we’ve worked together for many years and they know us to be a progressive and environmentally responsible firm,’ he explains.

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The pair saw that the eight-foot wall that surrounds the plot would be the key to a successful planning application. ‘Most objections relate to how a building affects a neighbour’s view, or whether the design works with the local vernacular,’ explains Eilir. ‘The high walls conceal the property from view, so those concerns would not have been an issue. We stressed the point from the outset by calling our future home Hidden House.’

Eilir and his family lived in the bungalow for six years before the project got under way. He and Frederieke knew exactly what they wanted, but were unsure that the local planning authority would share their vision. ‘We didn’t hold back, though. Hidden House was to be a contemporary, uncompromising, energy-efficient home fit for the twenty-first century. And it was to be a colourful and bold space for our family to enjoy,’ he says.