When Patrick Michell designed his vacation home in Norfolk Broads, Britain’s largest protected wetlands, he faced some unique challenges and opportunities. His project, Backwater, needed to meet standards protecting endangered species and be higher than the 1:1000 year flood level. However, the opportunities of the location—namely the stunning surroundings—more than made up for the trouble. Michell, Partner at Platform 5 Architects out of London, England, designed Backwater to showcase the rich environment of the Norfolk Broads. He oriented the house to be bordered by water on three sides and filled it with oversized windows. The home’s large overhangs, meanwhile, ensure that guests can go outside and enjoy the Broads in all kinds of weather.
“We were trying to build a contemporary new holiday home which connected with the water and views out across the lagoon,” Michell said.
The long sitelines informed the interior design as well. Michell built open, adaptable spaces that encouraged views to the outside. Two oversized, custom door panels on Axel sliding door hardware systems easily open up and close off the space, depending on the need.
“We wanted to have large openings in between living areas to keep a strong visual connection whilst having the flexibility to close the room off and control acoustics,” Michell said. “We wanted to make a feature of the large oak door.”
Michell and his team needed hardware that could handle the large, custom oak door panels, and yet could match the rest of the modern, simple space. At the end of their search, Krownlab’s Axel sliding door hardware system came out as the clear choice—despite having to order it from the US.
“It was by far the best looking hardware we had found so we went to the trouble of importing it,” Michell said. “The engineering looked simple and elegant but also had an option for a natural steel finish. We didn’t want the hardware to look too shiny and polished so this matched the raw mild steel we used elsewhere in the project.”
Axel’s Raw Steel finish, made from carbon steel, will patina wonderfully with age and use. Meanwhile, the obsessive engineering behind Axel’s solid steel construction allowed Michell the complete design freedom to use the custom, oversized oak doors.
“The hardware works well and the huge heavy doors can be operated by my 1-year-old daughter,” Michell said. “The hardware suits the space and compliments the other steel objects such as the fireplace surround and spiral stair. We are happy with the product.”
The Backwater House is also available to rent for vacationers looking to enjoy the Norfolk Broads.
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