New House in East Sussex

New House in East Sussex

Housing and Private Houses
Hadlow Down, United Kingdom - Build completed in 2015
Leigh Simpson

New House in East Sussex

BBM Sustainable Design as Architects

BBM were commissioned in 2008 to propose a sustainable master plan for a country estate in East Sussex. Our client wanted us to consider the viability of developing a derelict 1940’s dairy, retrofitting and extending a 1970’s house and a 19th Century Oast House situated next to each other. Working with Studio Engleback, who produced a parallel strategy for the surrounding landscape, the challenge was to create a low energy development from a brief that is traditionally extremely energy hungry, i.e. a new heated swimming pool with steam room and sauna, an external ‘natural pool’, and a high specification country house set in 275 acres of Wealden countryside that includes a lake and 150 acres of standing coppice woodland.


BBM & Studio Engleback came up with a low carbon strategy for this normally high carbon programme. It was agreed that local construction materials would be used, that the buildings would be extremely well sealed and insulated, and that a mixture of heavyweight and lightweight materials would be used to make the most of their abilities to store heat or insulate.


Our clients’ woodland is also the source of woodchip for the new biomass boiler that provides energy for heating the whole site. Nearby woodlands have also provided timber for cladding the dwelling and pool house inside and out, as well as providing joinery. Waste timber also forms the majority of the external wall and roof insulation. Designing a heated pool house plus sauna and steam room predominately out of timber products was particularly challenging, and we think, successful.


Local authority Planners asked that the pool house kept the form and volume of the derelict diary it replaced. However the new house was allowed to be a lot more expressive, responding to its site and orientation, its proximity to the double Oast House that its Northern roof and three story ‘light canon’ begin to emulate. The form of the roof attempts to reconcile the orientation of the building that faces South East: the roof is lifted up and twisted around to face due South allowing solar PV panels to benefit. It also expresses the main entrance of the dwelling viewed from the East, as well as reflecting the form of the neighbouring Oast House beyond. This undulating form is reflected in the first floor ceilings that also express this functionality. This expressive roof form collects rain water for use on the site, harnesses solar energy and controls natural light allowing it to penetrate the centre of the plan to express the treble height of the stair case, the north light over the living room and perhaps most poetically at different times of the day via the light canon over the meditation room.


The new house was designed to relate to the surrounding landscape in a number of ways while the pool house is broadly North-South facing with its straight-forward solar and sedum roofs. Each elevation of the house is quite different, responding as it does to orientation to the Sun and major views out towards the lake and beyond, as well as to the need for solar gain in the winter and shading from the Sun in the Summer. It was decided that the main themes of the three projects would be the expressive architectonic form and the material qualities of the internal and external finishes as existing or as specified: a robust simplicity for a working house on a farm.


The main house was constructed from 225 solid block work finished internally with either lime plaster or Moroccan Tadelakt, with 150mm of timber fibre board insulation on the outside finished with a chestnut ‘hit & miss’ rain screen or lime render. The main wall separating the meditation room from the entrance hall is made from rammed earth taken from the ground beneath the meditation room. A similar suite of materials is used for the interior of the Pool. The Tadelakt plaster works particularly well in this warm moist atmosphere and was traditionally used in Moroccan bathhouses.


The thermal mass of the walls and the polished concrete floors combined with external wall insulation and a sophisticated MVHR systems designed by Battle McCarthy enable the internal environment to be stable and comfortable.


This focus on the use of organic materials (that ‘lock’ C02 instead of burning it) from the site and surrounding area, as well as an interest in an architecture that responds to the many opportunities afforded by the location and this collection of buildings and landscapes, continues BBM’s enquiry into ‘Built Ecologies’ (an exhibition at RIBA HQ in 2008): the idea of a contemporary low energy local or regional vernacular born out of the surrounding landscape.


Energy Efficiency Pool

Guncast Swimming Pools as Swimming pool

Swimming pools are not often the most energy efficient element within a design. But within the volume of a derelict 1940’s dairy building, this luxury swimming pool demonstrates premium energy efficiency.


In order to find a functional, low carbon solution for a high carbon program, sustainable construction materials were used throughout the build. The exterior and interior timber cladding, for example, comes from the nearby woodlands, thus ‘locking in’ organic materials from the surrounding site.


The airy interior features walls finished with Tadelakt plaster, a material traditionally used in Moroccan bathhouses that function particularly well in this warm and moist atmosphere. 600mm x 300mm grey-green porcelain tiles and preformed pool coping are laid to run seamlessly across the pool hall floor. Using one material in this fashion contributes to the overall calming atmosphere, while the contrast between white walls and grey-green tiles creates visual interest. Meanwhile, roof lights introduce natural light.


To preserve as much energy as possible, the barn walls and roof construction are air tight and super insulated with high quality extruded polystyrene 200mm - 300mm thick. An automatic pool cover is linked to the air handling unit so that once the pool is covered, the pool hall air temperature drops, reducing the amount of moisture in the pool hall. This automatically slows the internal fan in the air handling unit, reducing the amount of heating required for the energy centre.


And providing energy for the whole site is a new biomass boiler fueled off woodchips, creating energy on demand as needed - while never overproducing.


More from the Manufacturer:


Luxury swimming pool design and construction company Guncast was commissioned to deliver a premium yet energy efficient pool design and installation as part of a large sustainable renovation project across a country estate in East Sussex, UK.


The pool was to be installed into a newly built ‘barn’ style building set within 150 acres of woodland, which, due to planning, had to keep the form and volume of the derelict 1940s dairy building that it replaced. Working with BBM Sustainable Design, architects for the wider project, the challenge for the swimming pool project was to create a new, low energy, carbon-neutral heated swimming pool with steam room and sauna.


The clients, keen yoga and relaxation enthusiasts, wanted a modern, clean, calm pool hall for meditation and relaxation, but also required the pool house to be a facility for all the family when not being used for yoga.


Guncast delivered a grand 12m x 7.5m main pool with a constant depth of 1.2m (as diving was not required). An automatic pool cover was also introduced in a floor chamber at one end of the swimming pool (concealed under a tiled frame). A splash/paddling area attached to the swimming pool, cold plunge pool, hydro spapool, sauna and steam room were also specified by the client.


With a high vaulted ceiling and white wash plaster walls, BBM created an airy pool hall and Guncast worked alongside the architects to deliver a simple but effective tiling scheme for a relaxed feel. Using 600mm x 300mm grey-green porcelain tiles and preformed pool copings, the tiles were laid so that they ran seamlessly across the pool hall floor, following the same pattern in and out of all three pools. Using one material in this fashion is very ‘easy on the eye’ and calms the atmosphere, while the contrast between the white walls and ceilings and grey-green tiles, achieves a modern twist. Roof-lights above the pool and windows at various levels throughout the pool hall introduce natural light and really complete the ambience.


To ensure the new pool met the environmentally friendly brief, all pool equipment was carefully specified to be as energy efficient as possible and the client also appointed energy conservation and reduction expert Mark Robinson from Robinson Associates alongside BBM.Mark planned to use another barn in the fields of the client’s farm as an intelligent energy centre. By using a combination of a wood pellet boiler and ground source, energy is created on demand as needed and it never over produces. However, this effective, efficient and low carbon emissions method of producing heated water to power the swimming heat exchangers, is only one part of the equation.


By insulating the swimming pool, the pool hall floor, barn walls and roof construction with very high quality extruded polystyrene 200mm – 300mm thick, Guncast ensured that heat losses are totally reduced. The automatic pool cover was also linked to the air handling unit so that once the pool is covered, the poolhall air temperature drops, reducing the amount of moisture in the pool hall. This automatically slows the internal fan in the air handling unit, reducing the amount of heating required for the energy centre, and electricity used.


In addition, all circulation pumps are fitted with timers so that they run for the absolute minimum time necessary and where possible the pumps are at a variable speed, slowing to tick over ratein down time.


Although a swimming pool is not often the most energy efficient element within a development, working together, Guncast and BBM ensured that the fabric of the Pool House is super insulated and air tight achieving a minuscule air permeability of 3m³ per m² at 50 PA external pressure. These features ensure that the carbon neutral energy generated by the onsite energy centre is not wasted. The north side of the pitched roof is finished in a mat of sedum plants with the south side completed with a large array of solar panels, generating electricity and heat for the building. To complement the eco-friendly swimming pool, BBM constructed the pool house with the most environmentally friendly materials possible.


The combined efforts of the team resulted in a swimming pool facility which is about as energy efficient as can be achieved on such a luxurious installation.


Product Specifications
BrandCategoryProducts
BAUMITBAUMITExternal Wall insulation and Render
C.P. HartC.P. HartBathrooms
DuravitDuravitBathrooms
Element 7Engineered Timber Floors
FairwaterNatural Pool Specialist
FinelineSliding Doors
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