UK to showcase the world's first carbon and energy positive, zero waste homes

Georgina Johnston
25 Nov 2020

Gs8’s Orford Mews is the innovative and groundbreaking pilot scheme for a sustainable residential building framework

The collection of nine residential mews properties in East London will deliver the community led and uniquely designed dwellings. The project is driven by their ambition to deliver a revolutionary design model which dispels the belief that high quality, sustainable development is not as viable as traditional methods of construction. As a tangible benchmark, Orford Mews will achieve and exceed the RIBA 2030 operational energy and embodied carbon targets even before incorporating on-site renewable energy or carbon offsetting schemes. 

Gs8’s team, including architect Michael Lynas of Studio Anyo and Kirsten Henson of KLH Sustainability, were asked to eliminate any traditional design and engineering methods and challenged to find new solutions over a four year period. Orford Mews represents the realisation of Gs8’s aspiration to create truly sustainable, viable and future proofed city dwellings without compromising building aesthetics. Crucially, the dwellings will be liveable and user friendly driven by the simplicity of design. The resultant framework has been designed to apply to future projects both residential and commercial.

Architect Michael Lynas devised the contemporary mews homes by incorporating a series of passive design elements including living walls and roofs, material choices including timber and reclaimed brick, innovative thermal massing solutions, and roof orientation to optimise solar energy generation.

We incorporated a series of design choices to realise this including the availability of local materials, compact massing to reduce heat loss, a bespoke south facing roof design, strategic window placement to retain heat and capture daylight and material choices driven by purpose and simplicity.

M. Lynas, Studio Anyo

Situated in Walthamstow, an area making huge strides in regeneration, the eight family houses and one three-bed apartment will qualify potential residents with a questionnaire to assess their willingness to maximise the properties’ sustainability potential. 

The contemporary, timber clad homes will also have access to community garden spaces created by London Glades and designed to forage with edible plants for all residents. Living walls have been integrated into the design for the aesthetic and air quality purposes, with bespoke moss roofs further improving air quality. A developed Neighbourhood app will provide real time energy usage stats, suggestions to reduce consumption, smart home technology and gamification features. A multifunctional space has been created to develop a sense of community amongst residents in addition with a reuse centre; the space will work as a social meeting place in the development where people gather to swap, give, take and reuse things in line with circular economy principles.

Gs8’s development will achieve its goals regarding zero waste, energy positive, renewables, materials and construction through the Orford Mews pilot scheme by the application of industry leading circular economy principles and reusing 100% of non-contaminated materials from the existing buildings in the finished development. The buildings have been designed to produce and reduce energy and heat loss and  gain, requiring occupants to consume less energy on a daily basis, resulting in a surplus. The buildings will be powered entirely by renewable sources, such as solar, heat and air so residents will also enjoy little, to no, utility bills and the materials specified at Orford Mews are all assessed on their embodied carbon and sourced locally as a priority. The developments are both sustainable in construction and in supporting local communities; Gs8 sources local labour and materials to support local business and sustainable building.

The Orford Mews project has given us the chance to redefine design parameters and explore new ideas for creating inner city zero carbon homes. First and foremost the residents need to be happy in their homes and community, with sustainable lifestyle choices made easy through the design philosophy of the Mews. The collaborative approach to design and delivery doesn't finish at construction, we will work in partnership with the residents to help them understand and reduce their energy consumption and ultimately live low carbon lifestyles in an urban environment.

K. Henson, KLH Sustainability

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