This self build project comprises 3 adjoining houses which were built by three families, starting in 1993. They were constructed according to the Walter Segalrefers to a simple self build timber frame form of construction pioneered by the architect Walter Segal. see details of the systemThe architect who devised a simple timber frame self build system (often simply known as 'Segal self build'). see more on the Segal method 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 Erefers to glazing with low emissivity. A special coating on the glass prevents radiant heat escaping by reflecting it back into the room..
- Low embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy. They are timber structures with mostly timber cladding to the rear. Much of the timber, particularly the larch rain screenthis is a (usually thin) outer cladding on a wall which prevents rain, snow, etc getting at the structure of the wall behind. see more on 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 roofsA roof with a covering of soil or growing medium and plants. They tend to be divided into turf roofs with a 150mm layer of soil and sedum roofs with a thinner layer (about 40mm). see 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.
- SUDSSustainable urban drainage systems 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 waterThis is the waste water that comes from the baths, basins, showers and washing machines. Kitchen sink water is known as black water. see Recycling 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 HomesCode for Sustainable Homes. A delightful tool for assessing how green a home is. Unfortunately now withdrawn (2015) by this short sighted government. and PassivhausSee more on the Passivhaus standard. The PassivHaus Institute has pioneered a standard for low energy buildings. It includes very low energy usage and ways of achieving this. The word is derived from the idea of buildings which are fundamentally low energy and passive solar heated rather than using extra gadgets to heat them. See Passivhaus for the UK branch of the organisation. were not in existence (though BREEAMBuilding Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. See Green Design Standards for domestic building was in its infancy) so some of the standards which are currently being brought in such as air tightnessA measure of how leaky a building is to air. In other words, how draughty it might be. There are now standard fan pressure tests to check how air tight a house is and the Building Regulations have minimum standards for all new houses (L1A – Conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings (England)). A much higher degree of air tightness is covered by the Passivhaus standard 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