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Not so mouldy Passivhaus

Justin BereJustin Bere spoke today at Ecobuild on the RIBA stand. I was really interested to hear about what he had to say about the article in the RIBA journal about the issue of airtightness and faulty MVHR systems being installed leading to condemned Passivhaus’s in Belgium (see my post Mouldy Passivhaus and why we need air. Justin has tested the Passivhaus’ that his practice have designed to find out what is happening to moisture. Continue Reading →

March 7, 2013

Straw Works – its back and its even better

2013-03-06 14.17.36I was really excited to hear the seminar by Barbara Jones of Straw Works today at Ecobuild. Barbara set up Amazonails previously and it was through this company that I learnt to build using straw bales and helped to build an extension to the Old Music Hall in Oxford and a showroom in Cropredy. Now running Straw Works it was really nice to see straw bale building in force again. So much so that Barbara has been approached by a housebuilder to build 200 houses. Continue Reading →

March 6, 2013

Wise Words from Bill Dunster

bill dunsterI listened to a seminar by Bill Dunster about the new Solar Zed roofs at Ecobuild today. These make a large reduction in the cost of installing solar because you are saving on the roofing material cost. This means that solar panels may only cost £80 per m2 extra or the example Bill gave was; it might cost say, £12,500 extra to install the solar zed roof which you can add to your mortgage, this would be less to pay per month than a mortgage on a house built to current building regulations with the energy bills on top. In addition you would be future proofing yourself against energy price rises which are agreed to be an 8-10% rise annually. Continue Reading →

March 6, 2013

Mouldy Passivhaus and Why We Need Air

Edge House 3d annotated-green-blogI was concerned to read in a recent RIBA journal (Feb/March 2013) about Passivhaus’s being built in Belgium without proper ventilation. It is a scary thought that while the building regulations in this country are leaning more and more towards air tight buildings, ventilation is getting overlooked or not properly designed. According to the RIBA journal, one Passivhaus in Belgium had to be condemned with occupants suffering from itching skin and allergies. The cause was an earth pipe used to bring in warm air from the outside which was not watertight, causing moist bacteria filled air to enter the building. Continue Reading →

February 21, 2013

Simple Eco and a New Eco Vernacular – how I apply my research in practice

A few years ago I took a trip around the world looking at case studies that had used vernacular technologies to great effect in modern sustainable housing design. I wrote this up as part of my masters at Oxford Brookes University (while simultaneously setting up my own practice). This research has greatly effected how I design today and I wanted to share one such example with you.

simple eco

The brief was to design a 4 bedroom + annexe eco farmhouse in a local village.

For this design I looked at existing farmhouses in this country particularly Sanders Longhouse in Dartmoor and a local farmhouse to me. I looked at the vernacular Continue Reading →

February 12, 2013

Women in Architecture

pink hatI listened recently to a really interesting programme broadcast on Radio 4 about women architects in the United Arab Emirates. There are many parallels with women architects in this country including issues with long working hours, child care support and being listened to in a male dominated environment. Here are my musings from the programme: Continue Reading →

February 5, 2013

Architects and the Recession

Architect recession2One of the biggest challenges I have had is setting up a business. I know how to be an architect, I understand design and construction but I didn’t know the first thing about setting out on my own, least of all in a recession. Following redundancy, many job applications, the dole and the job centre (a swift confidence destroyer if there ever was one, but that’s another blog) I was offered some freelance work and decided that may be the best (if only) course of action. Continue Reading →

January 3, 2013