The Fossil House - a grand design

An innovative eco-house that left grand designer speechless

Blackdown Hills AONB, Devon

a unique country home shaped like a Fossil

A truly remarkable building in a protected landscape is never going to be easy to achieve, but a close working relationship between architect and planner, and early engagement with the local authority led to the creation of this distinctive and prominently positioned eco-home.


To achieve an outstanding house, designed with reference to an ammonite fossil, that was truly innovative in a designated landscape.

View of Fossil House Through Landscaping

© The Modern House


The challenge, and therefore the opportunity, for this site was that it was a prominent valley side position in a National Landscape (AONB). It also formed part of a local nature reserve. Although the nature reserve was undesignated, the development concept was able to incorporate the protection and enhancement of the local nature reserve as an asset and significantly enhance the landscape. Due to the complexity of the project, the benefit of early engagement with the local authority was paramount and despite an initial negative response during pre-application, two design review panels later the application was passed unanimously at a public hearing.

The house was featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs. Presenter Kevin McCloud was ‘lost for words’ and referred to it as ‘a wooden spaceship’, and our own James Ellis, Director, Planning said it was ‘a truly amazing one-off project to be involved with’.


The house gained planning consent and was completed in 2017. It came on the market for sale in 2023. Some stunning footage of the house can be viewed here.

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