Contemporary Design Secrets: The Art of Building A House In The Countryside by Jane Burnside. Published by Booklink, Hardback, priced £20. Available from Amazon and Waterstones bookshops
JANE Burnside’s new book Contemporary Design Secrets: The Art of Building A House In The Countryside, which has received rave reviews from the national press, was launched earlier this week at the Titanic Belfast with guest speaker Minister of the Environment, Alex Attwood. Contemporary Design Secrets has been hailed as “an essential read”, “truly inspirational” and “the first of its kind to really get to the heart of house design”.
“Ultimately,” as author and award-winning architect, Jane Burnside, explains, “this book is about empowering people to get the best house they can from their architect. Contemporary Design Secrets is photographically illustrated with houses I have designed here in Northern Ireland’s beautiful landscape, and so explores what can be achieved artistically in the countryside.
“This isn’t as grand, or high-flown, as it sounds. It’s about how to create something that is both practical and beautiful, leaving a richer landscape for us all.”
Many people starting out on the self-build route opt for a traditional style of house that simply “fits in”, and that certainly has its place. Others seeking a new approach struggle with the idea of contemporary architecture in the countryside, concerned that something so sleek and modern won’t blend into the rural setting. Others still, while desiring a modern house, lack the knowledge to design one in a landscape setting.
So take heart in Contemporary Design Secrets, because, as Jane Burnside explains: “Being contemporary is not the same thing as being faddish. This book explains how to draw on a rich history of architectural influences: from Norman forts to labourers’ cottages; Scottish castles to Renaissance villas; and from Irish bawns to Scandinavian eco-houses. Being truly contemporary means being rooted in the past, yet responding to the present.”
Covering the entire process of design from: how to select where to build on your site, maximising its potential and minimising it’s pitfalls; how to locate rooms on the site, bring sunlight in and frame the views; how to design for contemporary lifestyles including the single person, the blended family, and retirees, Contemporary Design Secrets explains it all. Jane even gives advice on choosing materials, both for inside and outside your house, and how these choices will affect the look and feel of your home. She also explains the principals of eco-design and how the latest eco-technologies work, in both design and practice.
“It was challenging to actually write down, in lay terms, the way I think when I design a house – I know now why there has never been a book like this written – it was so hard. I am very fortunate, however, and could draw on a broad range of experience: teaching design to young students, when I lectured at Queen’s University; writing research articles when I was a Rome scholar at the British School at Rome; and finally, recounting conversations with clients about design ideas during my 20 years of practice. So, regardless of budget, the principals explored in my book apply to everyone wishing to build their dream house in the countryside – whether you have started to build, or just started to dream.”
As Jason Orme, editor of Homebuilding and Renovating UK, explains in the foreword: “As a reader, once you’ve finished this book, you’ll have learned a heck of a lot, have realised how much you don’t know, and, most importantly of all, be thoroughly energised to go off and create your own contemporary home.
“If your new house benefits from even a dusting of Jane’s magic, our landscape will be all the richer.”