The two mature Elm and Willow trees became the constraints of the project. They affected the arrangement of the new addition, and together with passive solar orientation, the result is a U-shaped plan enclosing a north-facing courtyard.
The structure is suspended over the ground to avoid damaging the critical root zones of the two trees. The concrete floor and roof slabs are meticulously detailed, with significant input from the structural engineer, to appear and feel light, floaty and airy, a dialectic relationship between weight and material. This quality is enhanced by a skeletal structure of ‘skin and bones’, in which the non load-bearing glass sliding windows become a mere breathing skin between occupants and the outside world.
The rear addition has a passive ventilation system, whereby louver windows promote cross ventilation. The building materials specified are non-toxic and from renewable resources. The concrete structure provides thermal masses to the house with the slabs further insulated to minimise heat loss. All windows are double-glazed to provide comfort to the interior, and the deciduous trees provide essential shading to the house during summer. Energy and water-saving fittings have been used throughout, and rain water is harvested for use in the gardens. A new carport with grid-connect solar power panels is in the design process.