5-floor split level atrium design floods clients with light – and awe!

In April 2018 Stephen Waldron Architects was commissioned to design, obtain detailed-planning consent, and provide a full set of construction information for a new family house on a plot at the very end of a new housing development. The plot already had outline planning consent for a single-detached house, albeit a simple ‘red-line’ consent with no house design indicated.  We, therefore, had a blank canvas in terms of the house itself.

The site was quite constrained: it was on a crazily steep slope of no great depth. It was however wider than a normal house plot and had wonderful uninterrupted views across the valley of hills and woodland to the South and Southwest from the frontage and side of the plot.  Open fields later the west of the site.

The original Brief was summarised as follows:

“Design a detached, 3-level, 4-bed house (no attic accommodation) on the plot to work with the topography of the site.  Submit a ‘details pursuant’ planning consent, and provide a full design for construction use and Building Regulation approval. “

The family liked open-plan living and the house also needed to contain a double garage, a utility room, and a small gym.

It was apparent that the client was open to quite radical ideas, but even so, they clearly did not expect the design that was proposed from their initial reaction which was of being somewhat awe-struck!  The design featured a central atrium rising through the specified three full floors, but was on split levels – off each staircase half landing, giving a total of five floors. Instead of having just a rear garden, the house was positioned against the eastern boundary and the garden wrapped to the western side in a series of interlinked, stepped private terraces each connecting to the adjacent floor.

The final design had three bedrooms plus a guest bedroom with an en-suite and associated small relaxation area.  And apart from a very large family room including a kitchen dining and living area, Stephen Waldron Architects was able to create within the dramatic roof space on one of the central levels a further large living room – a total bonus!

The clients are thrilled with the finished house and cannot believe the amount of accommodation and space provided within the overall volume of the house. In addition, the central staircase from the entrance right up to the ridge of the house provides a dramatic central atrium feature.  Guests are overwhelmed with the space, from which they can speak to anyone on the upper floors from the various galleries of the staircase.   Down through this space, they have hung a long pendant multi-light below the glazed roof which allows light to penetrate the very depth of every floor zone.

They noted the fact that by appointing an architect they obtained far more than they ever expected both in terms of value for money and quality of service. The construction package totalled over 25 drawings in addition to the detailed specification, and there was no lack of information for the builder at any stage.

Project Details


This project required the design, planning consent and construction information for a 3-storey, 4 bedroom home on a very constrained plot.


Caerphilly, South Wales

Project Size

Gallery After

Scroll to Top