Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trippy 3D visualisation

My favourite so far. Might landscape the garden like that after all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What was there before?

The Flowers, a shopkeeping family from Blackpool, built a holiday home on the site in the mid-60's. It was from them we bought the property in 2003, and it was a time capsule of old magazines, whiskey and 70's duvet covers. Beverley Flowers even gave me the house's visitors book which is a sentimental read - all pub meals for £1 and birdspotting from the world before Carribbean holidays for all.
Over the years a few friends have stayed there, and in fact film-maker Steven Sheil made a short horror film there in 2006 - you can read his very entertaining blog on the experience here.

With just a tiny bit of sadness, the log cabin will be removed next week to make way for the new house.

The Basics

To outline the basics of the build is probably worthwhile:
Our site has a Woodland Tree Protection Order on it, meaning they (the Planners) would rather you built a hoverhouse - if anything at all - on site. What this translates as is that your house must accommodate the existing trees and not harm their roots.
So our foundations are not dug - they're 12 mini-piles, fantastically small (10cm diameter) 'rods' driven into the ground on top of which a galvanised steel frame sits. Such small piles can be driven by one man and a small manual machine!

The Shack basic footprint is just 10m x 5m, with a small second floor bedroom and a 'basement' entry porch.
After a bit of deliberation our green conscience has meant that we have chosen to use prefab SIPS panels for the Shack. These are Structural Insulated Panels - sandwiches of inner and outer wall filled with insulated foam, that you clip into place on top of a steel frame - they're fairly common in the US and have many advantages over traditional timber frame builds. You even do the floor and ceiling with them. The downside of our tricky woodland site is that all materials have to be manually carried onto site, so the panels may need to be smaller than they could be, ergo a risk of losing some of their impeccable insulation characterstics in the joins. Its also probably more expensive to build with them for now.
Still, the plus side is a very fast build, a greener build by far and a home that will cost nearly nothing to heat.
We're working with the enthusiastic Charles at Sips Industries in Fife - - though he threatens to blow apart the carbon footprint of the build by threatening to do site visits in his helicopter !

There are big southfacing windows, an environmentally sensitive waste / drainage system and a green roof which will be colonised by mosses and ferns. Outer cladding will be wood, as will much of the interior.

The Grand Designs question

Usually when you tell someone that you're building a new house, the first thing people ask is "Isn't Grand Designs going to cover it?"
To set the matter straight here, yes the show was interested, but when it came down to it the Love Shack is too quick a build to sustain a one hour programme - the researchers quite rightly pointed out that there would be no point in returning after 6 months to shoot progress - it will be all built by then!

Welcome to the Love Shack

The picture at the header of this blog is an artists' impression of what we're aiming for at Argent Close (aka the Love Shack), a steep, wooded site overlooking Lake Windermere in Cumbria which currently houses a tiny and decrepit log cabin.
You - dear reader - step in some way down the line on this project:
We bought the present log cabin in September 2003 and so it's nearly five years since I convinced Adam "It'll be fun to try and do a contemporary house in the Lake District National Park!"
Well, so far its mostly been expensive (consultants), a little dull (choosing a bathroom suite) and very very frustrating ('The Story of the Lost Planning Appeal' follows some time). But there have also been great moments, like when dozens of supportive enthusiasts turned up on site for Architecture Week, urging us on to fruition with the project.