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time,” explained Hocking. “We designed the original cottage, then
added bedrooms, etc., much as if the home had evolved naturally.
We covered larger rooms with steep gabled roofs and then connected
them with lower, flatter roofs so that you could see between the struc-
tures and they read as individual forms, not one large mass. We also
moved away from a traditional approach in architecture where a house
has a front, a back and two sides to try and create a house with four
fronts. This means the building is more square than rectangular which
masks the true mass of a large house well.”
In the construction phase, Hocking joked that they had the masons
mixing the concrete and the labourers doing the plastering with
broken tools to avoid the natural desire to create the perfect lines of a
new house. “We took painstaking steps to grind the roofs and distress
the plastering so that it had the look of a house that had been there for
some time,” said Hocking. “We softened the weathers on the roof by
hand, built false sags and repaired nonexistent cracks to age the roof.
On the plastering, we restricted the tools that the masons could use so
that corners were rounded, edges were softer and walls were straight,
but not flat. This was all done whilst being careful that windows,
doors, baseboards and cabinets would all fit without large gaps.”
“Making the house look old required a craftsman approach by the
contractor. We practised how to do this without making it look like
Disney world and ultimately ended up building the critical elements
in exactly the same manner and with the same tools as they would
have been built originally.”
Other carefully considered details in the design included using
wooden joists over the concrete slabs so that the unfinished oak floors
would be “hollow and creak as you walk over them. This method gave
not only authentic-feeling wooden floors but the structural strength
and longevity of the concrete slabs,” said Hocking.
The owners were determined to have a single-floor home, but the
designer insisted some elevation was needed. “Jacob believed the
house needed a little lift in the overall composition, but we were stuck
on having only one floor,” said the owner. “He was absolutely right,
and it contributes a great deal to the whole architectural design. At
one point I wanted a spiral staircase going down from the crow’s nest
Left: The full expanse of Searose can only be seen from the south facing lawn.
Below, left: Searose is designed around a central tiled courtyard.
Above: A smaller garden courtyard features an artistic cedar gate.
Below: A secret room can only be accessed if you know which book opens the hidden door.