Zero Energy New Build Home

Located on the edge of a village near Abergavenny, the site had a number of factors that informed the design. To the front of the site run two major water mains supplying the city of Newport from Talybont reservoir. To the rear, 30m above the plot on the lower slopes of the Blorenge mountain, is the Monmouthshire and Breconshire canal. The canal forms the edge of the Blaenavon World Heritage site and National Park. This unique topography provides a vertical view from the house.

The monopitch roof was designed to maximise the area available for renewable harvesting, with the angle chosen to follow that of the iconic Skirrid mountain to the North East. The roof cladding is dark grey agricultural sheeting. Above the array of photovoltaics, hot water and space heating are provided most of the year by solar thermal panels. A log burning boiler stove in the living area heats the water on cloudy winter days. The wind cowl connects to a wind assisted heat exchange ventilation system. The house is fully heat and power metered and over the last 9 years* consumed an average only 12kWhrs/m2 of space heating per year, which compares well with the Passivhaus standard of 15. (*analysis updated 2020)

Visually and structurally the house is defined by two thermally massive, super insulated bookend walls, which support a pre stressed concrete plank first floor. This arrangement allows the internal spaces to run the full width of the building as well as providing a large amount of useful thermal mass. A discrete buttress and series of cross walls provide lateral stability, allowing the two ends to be lighter weight infill panels; the front of timber framing with oak cladding, and the rear to be almost entirely glazed, within a framing of Douglas Fir. This southerly glazed end forms a sunspace, contributing passive solar heating to the house.

Internally, natural materials have been used throughout. The side walls, which have 300mm of cavity insulation are designed to be breathable through the use of lime render externally and clay paint on lime plaster internally. The floors are covered with oak and Welsh slate on the ground floor, and cork to the bedroooms. Reclaimed Welsh slate forms the hearth, with other reclaimed items being the planks to the sunspace balcony and hallway bridge. In the dining area a pew salvaged from a redundant chapel forms the bench seating. The entrance slab and cills are in local red sandstone, and the windows made locally from oak.

The two double glazed screens to the sunspace effectively provide quadruple glazing to the interior. The largest window is formed by three frameless panels, providing an ever changing triptych of the mountain and sky, punctuated by paragliders on sunny days and bats on a Summer evening.

A second phase will add a parterre herb garden between kitchen and workshop. Above the workshop will be a green roof growing sedum. A new orchard has already been planted in the adjacent field, together with vegetable beds. Biomass willow for coppice rotation and native hedging provide the log burner with a very local renewable fuel supply.

The ground floor is open plan, with the cross walls separating an office / studio from the living / dining and kitchen area. Upstairs are four bedrooms and two bath / shower rooms. The staircase is located in a triple height hallway, flooded with daylight from two full height slot windows. Curved walls internally help maximise the flow of natural light, and echo the form of the rear garden retaining wall and the curved straw bale wall to the workshop.

March 2013

2017 - Design Commission for Wales Case study project

2014 - Winner of Best Eco Home The Daily Telegraph / Homebuilding and Renovating Awards

2013 - Un y Berllan shortlisted for the National Eisteddfod of Wales Gold Medal for Architecture


New Build Home in Stonesfield, Oxfordshire

Planning permission has been granted for this new home in a Cotswold village. Designed to Passivhaus standards and to be built in local stone, it features a passive solar sun space and integrated solar panels. The panels will run the home and provide enough power to run an electric vehicle.

Planning achieved 2018

New Build Home in Llangarron, Herefordshire

This timber clad home is designed to Passivhaus standards.

Planning policy update awaited

New Homes to Passivhaus standards

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