Emma Francois


MEng CEng MIStructE
Lake Cottage
A lakeside contemporary house with studio and pavilion
In a rural location near Gatwick, on the site of a former tennis club complete with a lake and a thatched cottage, we engineered a new contemporary residence in a series of buildings.

The first element is a below-ground rectilinear concrete structure for three en suite bedrooms, requiring ground works and extensive ground forming for the landscaping that extends over the top. As there is very little load to hold the concrete box down against groundwater uplift, tension piles are used to anchor it. One elevation of the box is fully glazed, facing a sloping landscape up to ground level.

The second element is a pavilion — a single-storey glazed concrete frame with internal steel feature columns. Its roof slab includes cast-in pipework, which is used to cool the building. The ground floor cantilevered deck extends over the lake, seemingly floating over the water.

A timber clad studio houses the master bedroom and is linked to the pavilion through the below-ground building. The studio faces the lake and also includes a cantilevered deck.

The original thatched cottage has been retained and now accommodates a cinema, and a new outdoor swimming pool has been installed, also connected to the basement bedrooms.

Whitby Wood’s engineers provided structural and civil services, as well as geotechnics in association with Wood Thilsted.

Smallfield, Burstow, Surrey, UK
private client


Structural engineering
Civil engineering
Geotechnical engineering


Special project

models and photos : Whitby Wood

UK projects
Apollo Theatre