The house is located on a spectacular site overlooking the Solway Firth in south west Scotland. The site is a steeply sloping, former quarry in a National Scenic Area which slopes in two directions, the quarry base is the only flat part of the site.
The client saw the potential in a very difficult and demanding site and had clear idea’s of the home they wanted from the outset. The brief was for a house to embrace the view with high insulation levels and renewable energy generation, together with the necessary accommodation. Our initial appointment was for a sketch proposal before the client bought the site. This early sketch allowed both the client and the seller of the site (who lives next door) to see the type of house that would fit on the site as it was clear the site could not take a conventional house. This initial sketch delighted the client. The sketch was shown to the Planners who saw that the design, whilst visually striking, was appropriate to the landscape setting and context and supported our proposals right from the start.
The house is conceived as a stone plinth housing the bedrooms with a garage & entrance under at the level of the quarry base. The principal living accommodation is expressed as a lightweight glazed ‘pavilion’ sitting on the solid plinth. It is set back to form an external terrace facing the sea and to reduce the apparent mass of the house.
The glazed pavilion is constructed with a steel frame and highly insulated timber infill panels clad in cedar and triple glazed windows. The roof, although thick internally to provide very high levels of insulation, is cantilevered on all sides with projecting expressed douglas fir rafters to give a thin, elegant leading edge. The roof is finished in standing seam pre-fabricated grey zinc. The roof pitch follows the slope of the site to reduce the mass of the house and the resultant section provides an outward sea view and an upward view of the landscape behind the house. The roof also takes the Photovoltaic Panels. The heavyweight concrete block masonry base is finished in stone from re-cycled quarry waste.
The majority of the site is very steep, access is by a single track road and the scope for storage of materials was very limited. These factors demanded efficient and safe project management and working methods by the contractors.
The design uses energy efficient construction & technology:
- the pavilion section and roof slope with overhangs are designed to passive solar principles suitable for the east facing site. The tiled, insulated floor with masonry surround to the stove are the solar thermal stores.
- external walls, floor & roof are super insulated and air infiltration is minimised.
- triple glazed windows with warm edge spacer bars, thermally broken frames and inert gas filled to achieve a whole window u-value of 0.7W/m2K.
- heat pump using a borehole as the ground source for the underfloor heating and hot water system with a closed combustion wood burning stove as back up.
- micro generation of renewable electricity using roof mounted Photovoltaic Panels.
- whole house heat recovery ventilation system.
As part of post occupancy evaluation, the client is monitoring the utility costs and Photovoltaic generation figures. We intend to determine performance in use figures later this year.
The original Main Contractor, Bert Pagan, sadly died 2 months into the build. Only the initial groundworks and some substructure works were completed at this stage. 3b construction were appointed as the new Main Contractor and completed the house in its entirety in a further 13 months