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Allerton Park, Leeds

Walter Segal self build

This self build project comprises 3 adjoining houses which were built by three families, starting in 1993. They were constructed according to the Walter Segal self build approach to construction and incorporated a number of ecological principles:

  • High insulation values. Most of the external surfaces have 200mm of insulation, some roofs up to 400. Glazing is generally double with one house triple, mostly 16mm gap, argon filled, low E.
  • Low embodied energy. They are timber structures with mostly timber cladding to the rear. Much of the timber, particularly the larch rain screen is sourced locally. The concrete foundations, being the Segal block type,  used less cement than similar strip foundations. There is no concrete blinding.
  • Ecological building materials. It was attempted to source the maximum non polluting materials as locally as possible. Much of the timber came from within a 30 mile radius.
  • Breathing construction. This was a fairly new concept at the time of building and was incorporated into many of the areas.
  • Living roofs where the planners would allow it. There are sedum roofs to the rear of the houses but clay tiles had to be used to the front.
  • SUDS for the car parking, using open cell pavers. This allows rainwater to drain down into the ground.
  • Rain water harvesting in tanks beneath the houses.
  • Composting toilets are used to avoid the pollution associated with sewerage.
  • Reed bed grey water treatment. Two of the houses are not connected to main drainage.
  • Full water recycling was originally installed but proved too heavy on maintenance for a group of only three houses.

With the building work being started in 1993, standards such as Code for Sustainable Homes and Passivhaus were not in existence (though BREEAM  for domestic building was in its infancy) so some of the standards which are currently being brought in such as air tightness were hardly known about. As the houses face east-west and are overshadowed by trees it was not feasible to incorporate solar collection. Heating is by condensing gas boilers in all three houses.

One or more of these houses have been open to the public on occasions. Particularly 11a is sometimes open on the Open House weekend in late September.

Architect – Jonathan Lindh of LEDA

Engineers – Melia Smith and Jones Ltd

3 comments to Allerton Park, Leeds

  • Wonderful inspiring stuff – we need much more of this instead of construction corporations throwing up dodgy boxes on green field sites – Thank you!

  • Daniel

    Harry. I’m sure i’ve seen corkscrew foundations on one of the grand design programmes. The corkscrew would push the roots of the tree to one side and shouldn’t damage them. It was the female couple who built their house out of plywood boxes made onsite using a CNC machine.

  • Harry Marshall

    Hello I am a member of a canoe club in Conwy, North Wales. We want to put up a canoe store on a sensitive site (World Heritage). Dimensions 6m x 7m. The store will be amongst trees but the construction will not be allowed to damage tree roots (the trees have a protection order on them). We were looking at the Walter Segal method of providing ground works, ie blocks 600mm X 600mm as a non-invasive method of achieving this.

    Can you help us?

    Thanks Harry Marshall

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