Butterfly House

Chetwoods Architects, Surrey, 2003


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Butterfly spreads its wings 

Edmund Sumner/VIEW (website)     Download Original

  • Butterfly spreads its wings    
  • Re-roofed summer house with circular-section connecting passage    
  • Main bedroom with suspended bed, window and bonnet ventilator    
  • Detail of kitchen table    
  • New chimney clad in plain and painted copper    
  • Entrance route as part of the landscape; climbers will grown on the house    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section A-A    

A refurbished 1930s timber framed family home inspired by the lifecycle of the butterfly

The site sits on a south-facing slope, relatively open, but in other directions enclosed in trees. The site’s indigenous planting turned out to be highly attractive to butterflies, highlighted by an ecological survey of the site.

While the whole is very much more than the sum of the parts, it is simplest to explain it as building plus unfolding butterfly. The original house, a Canadian timber-framed kit house erected in the 1930s for the Ideal Home Exhibition, has had its brick face clad in high-spec painted ply. The roof’s existing bonnet ends turned into powered ventilator flaps with extending fabric cheek, whilst the new chimney is clad in layered copper sheets, some natural, some painted in blue-greys.

This building has been joined to the small summer house by a new glazed entrance link (opening up the end of the house), plus conservatory and guestroom/playroom with a route via the guest’s bathroom and a short white Star Trek tube of a corridor into the summer house. This is now a studio and has been roofed with clear plastic corrugated sheets, plus fabric shading on the south slope.


  • Begun: 1999
  • Completed: 2003
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £500,000
  • Tender date: 1997
  • Address: Butterfly House, Surrey, United Kingdom

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