Two unique restoration properties have been released by multi-award winning heritage developer City & Country.
Located at The Garden Quarter, Caversfield, Near Bicester (the site of the former Domestic Quarters for RAF Bicester), the two properties have been crafted from an entirely renovated decontamination bunker. The historic bunker, originally built in 1939, was designed and developed by the now defunct Air Ministry, in response to the widespread fear of a gas attack. It remains partly concealed by two large earth mounds which were designed to offer blast protection.
City & Country has divided the original structure in half to create two distinctive homes, and Helen Moore, City & Country Managing Director, comments: “City & Country has been fortunate enough to work on a number of unique projects, including former Sanatoriums, Mansions and Hospitals, but I can honestly say that our two properties at The Bunker are possibly the most idiosyncratic that we have ever restored. Not many other people will be able to tell their friends and family that they live in a restored decontamination bunker!”
Early site investigations revealed the bomb proof roof structure to be comprised of two concrete slabs, separated by a metre and a half of sand, providing a myriad of architectural design challenges.
On the first floor, large open plan living areas make full use of the original structure, and contemporary kitchens feature handle-less wall and base units, laminate or stone worktops and integrated stainless steel appliances. Both properties feature quality flooring throughout to include 100% wool carpets, engineered oak flooring and porcelain and ceramic tiles, whilst stylish bathroom appliances are supplied by Roca or Laufen.
In order to preserve its unique design, the external appearance of the building has deliberately remained unaltered; however City & Country did have to entirely replace the existing roof. At approximately two metres in depth, the removal of the roof necessitated the installation of a new steel structure to brace the walls against the surrounding earth banks. This new structure was then used as a framework for a new intermediate floor and roof to be installed, ingeniously creating two floors of accommodation where only one had existed originally.
With the roof replaced, the project designers created internal courtyards within the boundary walls, which now flood both facades of the properties with natural light. The low-rise profile of the original structure provides these spaces with an intimate nature, which remains in keeping with the secluded character of the bunker itself.
Quirky features that have been retained and restored include external steel shuttered openings at the entrance to the bunker, which were originally intended to post contaminated clothes through in case of emergency.
The final design was a combined result of City & Country’s designers working closely with their appointed architects Fielden + Mawson. David Slater, Associate at Fielden + Mawson, says: “The conversion of a windowless, fortress-like structure into two residential units was a difficult brief, with no ready-made solutions or precedents available. The designs are a bespoke solution and therefore a unique creation. As the existing building effectively turns inwards from its setting, we referenced contemporary courtyard houses in modern Tokyo that similarly turn inwards to counter the surrounding urban chaos, and seek to create a Zen like calm within the garden courtyards.”
“These minimalist spaces have a tranquil serenity that was the inspiration for the two bunker homes. Uncluttered spaces with white walls, hardwood timber floors and large glazed areas are the principal elements used to form the composition. The opportunity afforded by the building involves both the conservation of an iconic heritage asset, and the change of use from a quasi-industrial/military building to a private residential dwelling.”
Both properties at The Bunker are priced at £440,000.
Located in The Garden Quarter, the properties enjoy an enviable location surrounded by superb countryside, yet with fantastic road and rail links to local towns and larger cities. Nearby Bicester North station provides regular train services to London Marylebone, with journey times from 48 minutes. The university city of Oxford is only 12 miles away, and by road the A4095 by-pass provides quick access to Junction 9 of the M40, linking the Garden Quarter homes to London and Birmingham.
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