Blending in Beautifully

Blending in Beautifully

There is an interesting development taking shape on the Cobo Coast Road in Guernsey. Alex Whitmore, director at PF+A, explains more about this stunning project.

The views from Cobo are amongst the best on the island and the coast road is a fiercely protected conservation area. Backing onto the woodland of Le Guet, the site was originally occupied by a 1960s bungalow with limited architectural merit. The clients felt that to renovate this building would compromise on quality, so they sought to demolish it and start from scratch. If you can be sure of one thing in this area, it is that planning permission for a new build would only be accepted if it were deemed to enhance its surroundings.

The team at PF+A and I produced a comprehensive planning and design statement which outlined the constraints and opportunities of the site as well as exploring different design options. The clients are developers who have confidence in our track record so their brief was fairly flexible. Basically, they asked us to design a really wonderful house which would maximise the potential of the site.

Two options were considered - a very contemporary design, and a more traditional build. While the large swathes of glass associated with modern constructions allow for fantastic views, it was felt that the more traditional approach - albeit with a modern twist - would better assimilate into the landscape. The Planning Department agreed and the application went through without a hitch. The original building was set back and turned to face in a westerly direction, but this left very little space for a garden, so the plans pulled the property forwards to create a bigger, south facing garden. A condition of any new design was to retain the green bank beside the road, which is an important protected feature.

A huge advantage of a new build was that its square footage was greatly increased by excavating behind the green bank, providing a spacious media room with a light well and windows. In fact, the basement is so roomy it is a flexible space that could easily house a gym as well as a media room.

There is also extensive parking. The beauty of the underground garage is that you can drive in, then turn around and come out forwards rather than reversing out onto a busy road. During the excavation, a quantity of Guernsey Cobo granite was pulled out, which was a highly valuable find and help to fund the project. Technology used in the construction of swimming pools was employed, with a steel frame and sprayed concrete to keep the basement watertight and airy.

The upper floors are of highly insulated blockwork and render construction and will feature a red tile, pitched roof. While there is less glazing than the modern option provided, glass is still a feature. When you have more than 25% glazing you have to look at the house as a whole and consider how thermally efficient it is, and the designers certainly needed to do that.

The ‘wow factor’ will be provided by a striking double-height window around and above the front door. A curved window with an ‘eyebrow’ feature above harks back to the Arts and Crafts period and, ingeniously, it is matched by its twin at the back of the house, allowing for views from the garden right through the house to the sea beyond.

The garden itself is level and sits behind the house and above the garage. It will be a real sun trap and, with Le Guet behind it and the coastal vista visible to the side and through the feature windows, it is a big improvement on the previously limited outside space. Although the project is well underway, it could be a year before it is complete. In the meantime, watching it progress and become part of its beautiful surroundings is almost as interesting as appreciating Cobo’s famous sunsets.


Guernsey Studio

Guelles Court
Guelles Lane
St Peter Port

9am - 5:30pm   |   01481 712633

Jersey Studio

12 Britannia Place
Bath Street
St Helier

9am - 5:30pm   |   01534 767950

Chloe Whitmore


T: 01481 712633

Chloe is the first point of contact in the Guernsey studio. She has moved from a career of more than 20 years in the legal profession to managing a creative environment and its people - a welcome change for her! Her experience and legal background are a great asset for the Group.

Ollie Muston MCIAT


T: 01481 712633

Having been educated and grown up in Guernsey and developing a passion for technical design work, information technology and an intrigue for building design and history during his GCSE years, Oliver decided to commence his career in 1999 as an Architectural Technologist with Lovell Ozanne one of the largest architectural practices in the Channel Islands,  During those first inspiring 9 years he gained his BTEC HNC qualification increasing his fundamental experience and developing his knowledge base by working on multi-million pound commercial and residential developments including, Mixed Use and Redevelopment Areas (MURA), offices, apartments and industrial units.  

Moving to the States of Guernsey’s Property Services Team in 2008, Oliver was able to learn invaluable working skills and practices, increasing his expanding skillset in tendering and contract administration, whilst having the opportunity to work on public buildings and the differing challenges brought about by these types of projects. These projects encompassed education premises, States buildings with high security requirements, projects at the airport and harbours and fully accessible health facilities.  Full Accessibility audits for the health facilities became a prominent project for Oliver as his career progressed and he carried out a number of audits and reports for substantial business within the Island.

Now with a total of 21 years’ experience within the industry, his expansive knowledge not only covers all areas of a very vast field, but includes all aspects of a project from inception right through to the final handover of a completed project; which, for Oliver is the most rewarding experience. 

Oliver’s exceptional wealth of knowledge has lead him to gain his chartership with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists and was formally invited to become an Interview Assessor for the Institute in 2015, a position limited to only a small number and in which someone can only be invited by the Institute.  Oliver completed the necessary assessor training a few months later.  

Ever striving to continue growing and expanding his professional knowledge, Oliver is a driven member of PF+A and one of the top in his field. With his professional yet friendly approachable nature he is an individual able to facilitate and communicate to clients, contractors, sub-contractors and other third parties to ensure that a project is always the best it can be.  Internally an exceptional trainer to the less experienced members of the team with an ease of teaching methods to ensure an unseamingly level of continuity for their development.

In his spare time Oliver enjoys spending time with his young family of three daughters, experiencing travelling and cultural diversity and of course Guernsey’s beautiful outdoor environment.