The brief for this property was to create an eco-home that would fit into the Cornish countryside. The desired aesthetic was for it to have curved, rather than straight, lines and that it should reflect an Asian style and Californian feel inspired by the owner’s travels. The plot was purchased by the owners with outline planning permission in place to convert and extend a poorly built barn – there was an element of risk involved in that there was no certainty that plans would be supported by the county or parish councils. The replacement dwelling required a strong concept that was at once high quality, sympathetic to the setting and of a sustainable design.
ARCO2 was engaged by the owners based on its award-winning status combined with the fact that they have an in-house building company. The property needed to be sustainable, whilst making the most of the site, including maximising the natural light and private views of the secluded valley location. In order that the building remained in-keeping with the local vernacular, natural materials such as stone, timber and green roofs, together with modern lightweight materials such as zinc, were employed.
The eight-acre plot was in a secluded and wooded site and so it was essential that the building worked both with the landscape and a number of changes of level. The house was designed with three wings; the first, a single storey kitchen and dining area with views up the site and appearing as if to ‘float’ over a new pond; the second, including a lounge, was created to give two-storey accommodation and a private walled courtyard; the third being an entrance wing with bedrooms and a playroom.
Each wing was cleverly designed so that you couldn’t easily see them all at once and when approaching the property only the entrance wing would be visible, giving the impression of a smaller scale, contemporary Cornish home. This aesthetic was assisted by mono-pitched zinc roof, a wildflower green roof and natural stone walls.
The second phase of the build was to create a pool building with a yoga room above. This was designed to complement both the location and the main building, blending Cornish and Balinese Architecture. Extensive, free flowing landscaping brought the whole project together and worked in harmony with the existing topography, whilst also incorporating the new, large pond and a Japanese garden.
It was important to the owners that the building was as passive and as maintenance free as possible. Heating for the pool water, all space heating, and hot water was achieved via a high-performance water source heat pump, with four slinky pipes submerged in the lake, which considerably reduced running costs. Self-cleaning glass was specified for inaccessible areas such as roof lights and the zinc roofs, natural stone and black stained timber finishes required virtually no maintenance.
The building itself was constructed on an encapsulated cast in-situ concrete raft, locally manufactured using secondary aggregate from the clay industry. The walls consisted of two independent timber frames spaced 400mm apart, but not joined allowing for maximum recycled newspaper insulation and no cold bridging through the walls. Engineered joists were used in the roof, which spanned further than solid timber, with minimal cold bridging and less use of timber overall. As a result, the house exceeds the minimum Passive House U-Values and requires very minimal heating throughout the year. The project was completed for £2,872 sq.m which included external works and extensive landscaping. This is exceptional value considering the renewable and sustainable technologies specified and high level of specification throughout.
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