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COMPACT but clever

Chris and Margaret Swales’ new home, built in the garden of the house where their son lives, may be modest in size – but it’s packed with personality and practical features that help to maximise space
PHOTOS KATY DONALDSON

South African architect Chris Swales and his wife Margaret have lived in a variety of places over the years while Chris worked on large-scale projects such as airports. After their last overseas posting in Salalah, a stunning coastal region in southern Oman, the couple – now semi-retired – returned to England, where they have long owned properties.

The couple’s UK-based son Tristin and his wife both work full time in high-pressure jobs and have two small energetic boys. Chris and Margaret were keen to spend time with their grandsons and help with the childcare, and so the family hatched a plan.

Three generations, one plot

The Swales clan wanted a home large enough to accommodate them all in the short term. The idea was that the property would have capacity for an annexe or separate dwelling for Chris and Margaret in the grounds, after which time the main house would be just for Tristin and his family. The property had to afford easy access to infrastructure for commuting and travelling, be near to good schools, walking distance to shops and close enough to a largish town that could offer good amenities and activities for the boys.

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