Blending the Old with the New…

Featured in KL Magazine

Yasumi is a Japanese noun meaning ‘rest’ or ‘holiday’ and it’s a fitting name for this property at Brancaster which started life as a single-storey farm outbuilding before being converted into a three-bedroom house during the 1960s.

When the current owner wanted to increase their living space and increase the overall size of the house, adding a touch of contemporary architecture to a famously traditional area, they needed something quite special.

They needed someone with a thorough understanding of the local area, someone with a commitment to sympathetic design and materials, and someone with a good working relationship with local planners.

To cut a long story short, they needed Jordan Cribb and his team at Hunstanton-based Vertex Architecture. Jordan happily admits that he’s not an architect and prefers to let his increasingly large portfolio of successful projects speak for itself. Founding Vertex Architecture in April 2018, he received 90 enquiries in his first year, 200 in his second and almost 300 in his third – and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

“We always focus on the client and their lifestyle,” says Jordan. “It’s often far too easy for designers and architects to follow a visually impressive concept and forget about the people who’ll actually be living in the property – and how they’ll want to live their lives.”

Yasumi is a case in point, with Vertex Architecture working with the existing building at Brancaster, keeping its central form and retaining as many original features and traditional elements as possible – while adding an adventurous contemporary touch.

“We have a great relationship with local planning authorities and agreed on a two-storey extension to the south and a single-storey extension to the east,” says Jordan, “and we wanted to mask the new elements with some clever planting and landscaping to help the presentday parts of the build blend in with the neighbouring properties.”

Work started in February 2019, with Jordan and his team employing Suiter Construction in King’s Lynn for the building work and Mendham-based Timothy Garden Design for the new plantings and landscaping.

“That was quite a challenge because there are so many different levels across the site,” says Jordan. “The garden areas were meticulously thought about, and the results are astonishing.”

As for the property itself (which was completed in the spring of 2020) Yasumi may now be 50% bigger, but it’s still essentially a three-bedroom house – and it still sits perfectly in this beautiful and idyllic location.

It’s a very clever design as well. The existing roof retains its attractive red pantiles while the new additions are roofed in zinc. It’s a clear indication of where the old ends and the new begins, and it’s less like a modern intrusion than a continuation of a story.

“One thing that worked in our favour was that the existing building had a modern render on it already,” says Jordan. “That made it easier to create and integrate a contemporary extension without it looking completely different or out of place.”

This wasn’t about creating a massive house or making a design statement. It was simply a case of designing a space that worked for the owners, who took on the challenge of interior design themselves.

“That’s the part that clients really enjoy,” says Jordan. “They trust you on the outside, but they have very specific ideas about what they want on the inside. We can help with layouts and detailing, but they’re the ones who are going to have to live there. And you have to respect that.”

Yasumi is a perfect example of how Vertex Architecture approaches every building project. It may be on the edge of a conservation area and has an obligation to complement the homes surrounding it, but it still manages to state clearly that it’s a design of the 21st century.

Although the company primarily works along the north Norfolk coast (one of its standout projects was the stunning new village hall at Brancaster) the reputation of Vertex Architecture is spreading further afield. Jordan and his team are currently working on a development of eight sustainable homes in Hertfordshire, seven sustainable homes in Cambridgeshire, and an array of other projects across Norfolk and neighbouring counties.

“There are several things you need to bring a project like this to life,” says Jordan. “You need a close working relationship with local planning authorities, you need a client who’s willing to take the time to do it properly, you need a dedicated team of contractors and tradespeople – and you need to understand the area in which you’re working.”

And although Jordan doesn’t mention it, you also need a designer with the vision to give you the home you want. It’s relatively easy to come up with a startling and avant-garde concept. It’s another thing entirely to create a home that both enhances the local community and meets the needs of the people who live there.

In little more than three years Vertex Architecture has built an impressive reputation (and an equally attractive portfolio of successful projects) and the future looks particularly promising for Jordan and his team.

“We never look at a project from our point of view,” he says. “It’s your home and you’re going to have to live there – we’re just here to help give you the property you need and the life that you want.”

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