Tag Archives: SUSTAINABLE

House in the woods

 Our client’s purchased this 1950’s property for its setting despite their dislike for the house itself! We worked with them to develop a scheme involving substantial extensions and structural alterations as well as landscape interventions. The side extension houses a generous, top-lit, open-plan kitchen and dining area whilst the rear extension provides a comfortable master bedroom suite with a private rooftop terrace overlooking the woodland setting that originally ‘sealed the deal’!

The Homestead

 A fast flowing watercourse that runs past the house provided an interesting challenge to what was otherwise a fairly straightforward brief! Our response was a glass-enclosed ‘floating’ bridge over the watercourse to more functional utility and bathroom spaces. The extension reads as a garden pavilion, providing an impressive entrance courtyard and improved access to a peaceful, leafy garden beyond.

Sydnope Stand

 It’s not every day we get asked to design an extension to a castle!!!! Pre-application discussions with planning and conservation officers proved lengthy given that the former hunting lodge is within the original curtilage of the listed Sydnope Hall.


The modern extension is cut into the sloping site and appears subservient to the host building. The verticality of the façade treatment reflects the dense woodland surrounding the extension and views out of the living and bedroom spaces give the feeling of being in the tree canopy. A feature plywood wall brings the woodland inside.

Sophie’s House

Our clients wanted a fully accessible house for their daughter within the grounds of their existing home.

The design is conceptualized as a walled secret garden, continuing from the existing boundary wall, and forms the north elevation of the new house. The heavily insulated walls are clad on the north side in render and with larch on the south.

Slot glazing minimizes heat loss on all elevations except the southern aspect, which enjoys views over the ‘secret garden’ and access out onto a south-facing patio.

The energy efficient house is fitted with a simple strip of Solar Photovoltaic panels which take full advantage of the near perfect orientation.

Affordable, Zero carbon housing

 Having completed our experimental low energy BASF house at Nottingham University we were asked by the Peak District Rural Housing Association to design 8 zero carbon, affordable homes in the Peak District National Park.

The sensitive location meant we were not able to use some of the low cost industrial building products we specified for the BASF house. We did, however, apply the same passive design principles however.

We suggested a linear development in keeping with the venacular tradition of the historic village centre. This created houses with a north/south aspect. The north, and more visible elevations were simple with traditional detailing, whereas the southern elevations were fully glazed. Trees were planned along the southern boundary for screening and to provide shade from the low level winter sun. The land to the north was to be a community orchard.

We worked with Ian Ward as a consultant to achieve a scheme which would achieve level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Overall we were happy with the design, although, given a freer reign, we would have adopted a more contemporary approach to the northern elevations!

There was a great deal of support for the proposal, both because of its sustainability, and because it provided much needed affordable homes for local people.

There was unfortunately a small group of very vocal local people who were opposed to the development. They incorrectly, claimed that the site was a former village green. This involved the Housing Association in a costly legal process which despite being successful in seeing off the claim, ultimately meant that the scheme could not go ahead as planned.

North View

 Our clients wanted to construct a single story home for themselves, as their current house had become difficult for them to live in. They did not want to leave the village and their friends so hoped to build a suitable dwelling in their garden.

We suggested constructing a building with a mono-pitch roof off two low walls to the boundary. From the neighbours’ perspective, this would be no more invasive than the erection of a fence, which could be erected without planning consent.

The site had complicated planning issues to resolve. These included overlooking problems as well as an awkwardly shaped site. The Planning Authority were very resistant to the idea.

The roof pitch means that we were able to use sedum to create a living roof which is both attractive and thermally very efficient.

The Blue House

 A new house in Wash Green, Wirksworth on an awkward corner site.

Before the house was built, the view of Wash green on leaving Wirksworth was one of an ugly pre-cast concrete retaining wall.

The wall still exists, but by planning the house on the corner and on the permanent edge, a sense of continuity with the street is introduced and the view of the wall is lost.

A splash of colour is introduced to brighten the street scene (as can be found in the centre of the town), and cedar cladding is used to turn the corner and introduce a silver grey colouring, suggestive of the colour of the locally quarried limestone.

BASF House

 We won a competition to design an experimental one off house to be constructed in the grounds of Nottingham University. The brief required us to produce a solution which could be reproduced as a terrace for approximately a third of the cost of a conventional house and which was sufficiently energy efficient to require no heating!

Our response was to design a house which has a compact floor area and relies on passive solar design. The design is extremely simple. The house has highly insulated north, east and west walls with the minimum number of openings compatible with acceptable daylight levels. The southern elevation consists of a fully glazed two-layer sun space.

The sun space can be used to assist heating and cooling by opening or closing both layers to the inside/outside depending on the season and weather conditions.

The stepped profile roof, and an open ground floor plan creates low pressure around high level windows at the top of the roof space internally which helps to naturally encourage a flow of air through the house which further helps both heating and cooling.

Ducting laid underground during construction provides a constant supply of air at around 10ºC whatever the season. This can be admitted into the sun space to pre-heat or pre-cool the space.

We wanted the house to be fun to live in, which some low energy projects tend not to be. The sun space therefore can be inhabited at ground and first floor level to interconnect living and bedroom spaces and create a sense of drama.