'Secular Retreat', a detached house designed by Peter Zumthor for the property rental firm Living Architecture, is nearing completion near Chivelstone, Devon, and as such is the Swiss architect's first building in the United Kingdom. Set on a hilltop, the concrete and glass structure overlooks a section of picturesque southwest English countryside that is part of the South Devon Heritage Coast and also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, among other things.
Monterey pines up to 20 metres tall and a hexagonal-shaped space surrounded by concrete blocks recall the wooden houses from the 1940s that once stood on the hill. Two separate wings offering a total of five bedrooms lead off from the open-plan living room in the middle of the building, forming the structure of 'Secular Retreat'. The garden particularly stands out for its botanical diversity, with 5,000 local tree and bush species included in the plantings.
The pathway leading to the house and the surfaces of the terraces consist of rough-sawn Blue Lias stone, mined directly from the sedimentary basin of the Somerset region. Cherry wood and the timber of Bengal quince provide the material for the doors, shelves, closets and kitchen furniture.