House Imagine replaces an older, uneconomic and poorly designed house on the site that did not suit the owners’ needs and desires. In the new design, the clients wanted a contemporary and sustainable replacement dwelling that would be more suitable for contemporary life, offer a healthier environment and be far cheaper to run than a conventional home.
At first glance the house appears to be a typical house on an ordinary London street. Care was taken to respect the setting, which sits within the Muswell Hill Conservation Area and is characterized by detached brick and tile houses. The form and scale of the street elevation mirrors that of neighbouring houses, but offers a contemporary presence with crisp window and door openings set into a white rendered wall beneath a red tile roof, offset by a simple porch and a zinc-clad oriel.
The simple form of the street elevation gives no hint whatsoever about the contrasting garden-facing elevation, where the contemporary design of the house is much more evident. Here an exciting Modernist inspired façade, with large windows opening onto a stepped series of terraces, overlooks the garden.
Inside, the entrance hall opens onto a spacious living, dining and kitchen area. A study is tucked away to one side of the hallway, with a well-sized cycle store to the other. Full height glazed doors open onto a garden terrace and fill the space with natural light. Below, the basement contains a large family room and games room alongside utility, storage and plant space. A broad light well contains a sunken terrace, and beings light in from the garden through full height glazed doors to reduce the need for artificial lighting. The first floor contains four bedrooms, while the large master bedroom suite above sits within the hipped roof.
To fulfil the sustainability aspirations of the design, an array of 8 PV panels are used to provide the house’s electricity and feed the grid where possible. These are used with a nominal 4kW capacity to ensure the maximum rate of feed in tariff. The panels were specified because of their outstanding performance, maximizing the energy yield within the space available. The PV system has exceeded expectations by 11%, with a total of 3,871kWh generated per annum, offering an annual carbon dioxide saving of 1,800kg. In addition, solar thermal panels on the hipped roof provide hot water to the house.
Sustainability was a key criterion for the house, which uses the a wide range of materials and technology to minimize energy requirements and create a healthy living environment. The house was built using Baufritz’s prefabricated timber frame construction system, which combines outstanding energy performance with bespoke design and exceptional construction standards. The house was prefabricated in Baufritz’s factory in Bavaria (powered extensively using renewable energy generated on site) before being shipped to the UK. Off-site prefabrication meant that once ground works were complete, the shell of the house was constructed and watertight within three days, minimizing construction time on site, construction waste and disruption to neighbours.
The house is insulated using Baufritz’s unique 100% natural wood shaving insulation. Wall and roof panels are filled with a 24cm thick layer wood shavings, providing excellent insulation values between 0.20 Wm2K and 0.16W/m2K. This material is breathable and treated with whey and soda for fire, mould and insect resistance. The house is cool in summer and warm in winter because unlike other insulating materials, the wood shaving insulation can absorb air humidity and return it as required. Other energy efficiency measures include mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, a high efficiency gas boiler, triple glazed windows and rainwater harvesting.