PHOTOGRAPHS RACHAEL SMITH
WORDS DOMINIC BRADBURY
London-based architect Patrick Michell, of Platform 5, and his wife Claire had been looking for a site to build a country escape for themselves and their two young children for some time. Eventually they came across a derelict bungalow at the end of a quiet track in Norfolk with extraordinary views over the waters of the Norfolk Broads.
With his wife, who is also an architect, as his client Michell designed a new house for the site that takes inspiration not only from the setting itself but also the local vernacular of chalet-style timber buildings overlooking the waterways. The new family home faces the Broad, complete with a substantial deck and pontoon, as well as a sheltered veranda.
Within, the dining area and kitchen sit at the heart of the house, connecting easily to the all-weather veranda. To one side of this central space sits a generously scaled sitting room, with a small study/den hidden beyond the fireplace. To the other side of the house bedrooms are arranged on two different levels, with a bespoke spiral staircase connecting the two floors. Picture windows throughout frame the views and help the house connect to nature, while sympathetic planting around the house softens the impact of the building upon the landscape.
This new family home now offers a much-loved retreat for the whole family, allowing adults and children a fresh level of freedom and an alternative to urban life. For Michell and his partner, Backwater provides a vital opportunity to recharge in a sublime setting.