Architect Richard Hawkes

Eco House Agent, United Kingdom

Eco House – “Wings”, (near Kent)

An aircraft pilot and his family wanted a house with a “wow” factor – and that is exactly what they are getting.

Architect Richard Hawkes designed the passive home for construction in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and serves to celebrate its position in such a prominent location, really merging modern design with the surrounding environment, suggesting affiliation with it rather than intrusion. In such a great geographical location, the owners can take full advantage of the solar heating potential. The photovoltaic panels on the house are combined with solar thermal collectors, which will not only provide energy from collected sunlight but will store heat from it too (also known as PV-T panels).

These panels have enabled the client to secure the higher rate Feed-in-Tarrif for 25 years, so the system will have paid for itself in only 6 years – a superb outcome for the family.
Alongside this, the highest point of the area is 223m (732ft) above sea level, so the views will also be something to behold for the family. With this in mind, air loss and insulation are at a Passivhaus level, meaning the house achieves a robust and cost-effective way of maintaining low carbon emissions. The insulation also partly includes recycled newspapers. The use of MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) or “comfort ventilation” are also part of the Passivhaus low energy building design, meaning that the airtightness meets the requirement of less than 3 ach/ hour.

Rainwater will also be collected in a huge tank to help irrigate the surrounding land – thus enabling the house to essentially co-exist with its surrounding environment, and replenish it year on year.

The four-bedroom dwelling boasts triple glazing, providing better sound and thermal insulation. Whilst triple glazing may seem only available to houses seen on Grand Designs, some ecologists believe that this will be the building regulation standard within five years. Other criteria that triple glazing involves include:
Insulating against heat loss

  • Resisting severe changes in temperature
  • Having an proficient noise reduction
  • Keeping moisture and rain outside
  • Creating and maintaining a wide, safe environment for children
  • Proving to be aesthetically striking and fit well into the facade

The home mirrors Hawkes’ award winning Staplehurst property in Kent seen on Grand Designs in 2009 and 2011. The structural reliance on a large, vaulted roof helps retain a large thermal mass, whilst reflecting the aerodynamic curves and visual prominence of an aircraft.

Points of the house that are in question of being truly “carbon free” are as follows:

  • The amount of concrete used in the construction   
  • The source of timber that was used as a frame

Planning permission was reportedly refused in 2010 and one neighbour has suggested discomfort with such a large, modern home situated within such a rural area. However, with households contributing to 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions, it seems only natural to overcome mere aesthetic discrepancies and irritations towards eco homes, and allow innovative, individual production of passive dwellings.



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