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Association of Environment Conscious Building (AECB) Conference in Bristol 2014

Ashley Vale Tour - AECB ConferenceThis month, I attended the AECB conference in Bristol. Kicking off with the new mayor, an architect who not only turned up on his bicycle but was wearing red trousers was superb! George Ferguson is very passionate about really making the most of the bid for Bristol as Green Capital and it was really good to hear about the various initiatives going on in Bristol today. Unfortunately I had to miss two great talks by Jonathan Hines (Architype) and by Mark Elton (Sustainable by Design) as they clashed with the Ashley Vale tour (a case study for my new book). Read more about the Ashley Vale Tour in my following post. The following day there were more interesting talks and it was yet again hard to choose between them. I enjoyed Kate de Selincourt’s talk about natural ventilation in buildings, which highlighted many issues about poor indoor air quality. Particularly when people don’t keep trickle vents open or use extractor fans because they are noisy. Several pieces of research were looked at which showed very high levels of indoor humidity leading to increase in dust mites and also high levels of organic compounds (pollutants) in the air which is very bad for health and particularly asthmatics. Another interesting talk came from Fran Bradshaw, partner at Anne Thorne Architects who spoke about her new-build straw bale house in Norfolk, including a thatched roof. This was very inspiring use of local people and a pioneering approach to creating a house for her family that fits in with the local vernacular. The house had very little embodied energy as it used local materials and it will save energy in the future due to the high insulation value of the bales.

Another great conference over, feeling more inspired about the rest of the year and looking forward to the next one (and hopefully some AECB events at the new Oxford branch!)

July 23, 2014

Ashley Vale Self Build Co-operative Bristol

Ashley Vale BristolAshley Vale Bristol

Clare Nash recently visited Ashley Vale self-build co-operative in Bristol which will form a case study in her new book (see publications page). She visited residents and interviewed them and also went on a tour as part of the AECB Conference in Bristol. This was a very informative tour, covering the site history and politics, including the difficulties of fighting off a developer and then gaining planning permission for 20 unconventional dwellings. A real inspiration, and certainly a good example of how to deal with the housing crisis. These homes are individual, larger than standard but at very high density. This would not have been possible with conventional house building planning rules and ‘the car rules’ typical estate planning. So it is a very good example of what could be done to solve the housing crisis. Ecomotive were the ‘developers’ who enabled this development to take place and it’s director Jackson Moulding was the founding member of the National Self Build Association (now the National Custom and Self Build Association (NACSBA). Ecomotive and Snug Homes are now keen to help future developments like this go ahead.

IMG_0418Interviewing the residents at Ashley Vale was a really rewarding experience as everyone was so keen on the development. People rated the community very highly and everyone seemed to know everyone, even the tenants. Local people in surrounding housing have also benefited with communal green areas and crime is very low. Three houses were open on the tour and it was interesting to see useful passive cooling techniques, such as low level openings and high level roof lights letting air circulate in a sun space. All the houses are timber frame with cellulose insulation, which creates a very breathable construction which is a very pleasant atmosphere to live in.

These houses were a lot cheaper to build than your average home. Plots cost £25-35,000, build costs were – £45-80,000. Cost per m2, around £500 which is extremely low, take note Mr Boles! Being green needn’t cost more than a traditional house, in fact if you do it yourself or as a community it can cost less!

Ashley Vale BristolOverall this is an excellent case study as it shows that the housing crisis needn’t be solved by identikit, soul less housing, instead you can identify a self-build plot and let people get on with building their own homes, creating fantastic communities as they do so.




Clare Nash Oxford School of Architecture Alumni Profile

DSCF6588Clare Nash is one of a few graduates to be featured in the Oxford School of Architecture Alumni Profiles on the Oxford Brookes University website. Clare Nash completed her Part 2 Architecture Post Graduate Diploma at Oxford Brookes University. Since then she has worked for a successful practice in Oxford called ADP, qualified as an architect, travelled abroad to carry out fieldwork for an Architectural Regeneration masters at Oxford Brookes and set up a successful architecture practice specialising in energy efficient design.

This picture was taken while researching New Generation Yaodong Cave Dwellings in China for my Masters. Read the Clare Nash Oxford School of Architecture Alumni Profile here.

July 1, 2014