Oh, I see! How inventive! You've actually stacked the boxes I am supposed to live in!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The 'Natural House' at the Building Research Establishment

3D Rendering of the 'Natural House'
The Prince’s Foundation, in collaboration with the Building Research Establishment, Natural Building Technologies and Kingerlee Homes, is engaged on this high-profile build project that will demonstrate that the most effective route to a low energy, low carbon building is through an effective building envelope. This is to be delivered by employing natural building materials.

The house is built from the Thermoplan system comprising aerated clay block (an update of the traditional brick with trapped air pockets forming insulation), wood fibre insulation, lime plaster and clay-tile roofing. The house will deliver high performance standards whilst stressing that ‘eco’ is only meaningful when delivered in a walkable neighbourhood connected by public transport to town and city.The house as designed demonstrates a buildable, market-facing solution to the challenges of low-energy living. It can be delivered immediately by the contemporary development industry with existing skills and is entirely fit for purpose — both in the context of current planning requirements and customer expectations in the mainstream residential market.

Principal Themes

The project has been developed in accordance with the following four main themes that the partners agree are the key to effecting a sea change towards lower energy building:

1   Low Impact & Long Life

Rather than hurrying the industry through a round of untested, innovative fixes, the partners are keen that we optimise proven solutions bringing the residential development sector up to acceptable standards of performance in a very short space of time. Addressing energy efficiency through this informed approach the Natural House is highly energy efficient in operation and has a build quality that anticipates a long life. As far as possible materials are naturally derived with the capacity to be locally sourced, reducing carbon impacts still further.

2   Deliverable & Desirable

The house has been built to address the needs of two key audiences — the residential construction industry which will be building the homes of the future and their customers, the increasingly eco-aware home buying public. With this in mind, the house is designed to be deliverable, affordable, practical, adaptive and attractive.

3   Reducing Community Footprint

To create cohesive communities and support social wellbeing in the long term — the house is defined by strong urban design and will be replicable at scale. It will be flexible enough to allow future changes of use and tenure. It will also be healthy for occupiers and, because it fits well into a walkable and high quality urban realm, will promote an active lifestyle.

Urban Design Model


4   Simple & Replicable

The project itself has been established on principles of simplicity, on the basis that if we do not understand an approach we cannot replicate it, and learning, with the aim of disseminating best practice as far as possible in the shortest time. Many sustainability solutions currently being brought forward are baffling in their complexity, and take refuge in an exact science that is unlikely to be replicated with any success on the ordinary building site.

HRH The Prince of Wales visits the Natural House in Watford

Find out more about the Passivhaus principles and sustainability credentials of the 'Natural House' in an interview with BRE director Jaya Skandamoorthy by Building.co.uk:

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