In South Devon, between the resorts of Salcombe and Hallsands lies a landscape of rolling hills, wooded river valleys, patchwork fields and small villages of old stone houses. It is here Living Architecture invited one of the greatest architects in the world, Peter Zumthor, to create Secular Retreat.
“Secular Retreat” house in Devon
Atelier Peter Zumthor and Partner
Project team: Peter Zumthor, Rainer Weitschies, Pascal Berchtold, Tom Tsapkov, Anna Page
Executive architect (phase 1): Mole Architects
Local architectural advisor (concept phase): David Sheppard Architects
Construction management: Simon Cannon
Structural engineer: Jane Wernick Associates
Quantity surveyor: KM Dimensions
Environmental design engineers: Transsolar and Integration UK
Landscape design and consultant: The Rathbone Partnership
Positioned on a lower level within the garden, Secular Retreat is partly concealed behind the reinstated natural field boundaries. Only as guests approach along the sweeping pathway is the full extent of this extraordinary house revealed.
Guests enter beneath the massive overhang of the cantilevered white concrete roof. As they move through the fully glazed large open-plan living area, the beauty of this remarkable location and interior becomes apparent.
The magnificent views are best enjoyed from bespoke armchairs perfectly positioned to become transfixed by the procession of clouds moving across the South Devon landscape, and watching the sun set over the valley below. However, the writing desk, situated in a semi-hidden nook, may just have the best view, an intimate place for contemplation and putting one’s thoughts onto paper.
The living area is where guests come together to prepare food in the thoughtfully designed kitchen, eat at the large dining table or gather around the fireplace. When in need of some privacy, for an afternoon nap or a soak in the timber bath, they can choose from five generously sized bedrooms each with an en-suite bathroom. Each bedroom takes advantage of the stunning location, with full-height windows onto the nearby gardens and landscape. Wake in the morning to see birds of prey scouting the valley below, take a coffee into the east garden, settle on a bench with a book or take a stroll among the Monterey Pines surrounding the house.
Secular Retreat is a very special house that must be experienced to appreciate the insight and sensitivity Peter Zumthor and Living Architecture have brought to this breath-taking landscape.
Subscribe here to get weekly updates about architecture events and exhibitions.