Not so conservative – Real Homes

This garden office behind a country home is startling because of its shape and construction


Although Jonathan Marland was the former treasurer of the Tory Party, there’s nothing conservative about his choice of garden room. Soaring planes of steel, rusted and shiny, reach for the sky, echoing the lines of his Jacobean manor house, to make an elegant modern structure which sits well in its traditional surroundings.

Inside, masses of floor space and extravagantly high ceilings make it an inspirational workplace, offering views of the sweeping vistas outside: perfect for an entrepreneur juggling several different companies with the financial affairs of a leading UK political party.

On the face of it, the building might seem an odd choice for a small, very English village in Wiltshire but, as Jonathan explains: ‘The house is Jacobean with a Queen Anne extension, and I wanted something original and different. I could have gone for a fake Georgian building, but instead we’ve tried to match up the colours. Various hues are developing on the rusted steel roof which pick up the colours of the brick and will eventually match the tiles on the roof. On the other side of the building you have the modern reflective wall echoing the colours of the garden surrounding it.

'Planning permission wasn't a problem - local planners know I'm not a lunatic'’

Another unusual quirk – one which might be deemed quite ‘New Age’ for a Conservative – is that the building is set to align with a leyline from Stonehenge to Clearbury Ring, passing through the garden and taking in Salisbury Cathedral.

Architect Hans Klaentschi was working on a vandal-proof steel cricket pavilion when Jonathan first noticed his work and decided to hire him. So began a relationship between architect and client, both of whom knew what they liked and what they didn’t, and weren’t afraid of saying so. ‘The concept was very much one of Hans’s off-the-wall ideas. We sort of pushed and pulled each other and eventually got to what is almost certainly a compromise in his mind, but something that I’m really happy with.’

Thanks to previous dealings with local planners Jonathan had no trouble getting planning permission: ‘They know I’m not a lunatic,’ he says. Sourcing materials was less straightforward: the windows, for instance, had to be imported from Germany and took six months to find.

The cost came in at around £50,000 which, although slightly more expensive than Jonathan had envisaged, was still half the price of other quotes for the job.

With four children and assorted dogs running around the house, Jonathan relishes his own studio space. ‘What I wanted was a building that was light, with good aspect and space. I wanted it to have a feeling of peace but also activity. Most important is to have a comfortable place where you can listen to music, watch the cricket or golf, smoke a cigar and be surrounded by your possessions and not have it cluttered. Having an office to go to helps me work, in that I’m away from the distractions of home.’



Useful contacts

Architects: Klaentschi and Klaentschi 01722 790 070
Structural engineer: MLDE Mark Lovell
Building contractor: David Cherrie 01980 670 808
Steel work: Metaltech
Door fittings: Surelock McGill
Rooflight: Lonsdale Metal Company
Warminster Glass Co


Words: Angela Linforth  Images: Jefferson Smith

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