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Longwood House

Longwood Eco House incorporated a brief to develop a large open plan, and informal family home, which also meets the highest levels of environmental design and construction. Set in an area of great landscape value, the importance to achieve a design, which is sensitively integrated into the site and connects with the landscape, was the key to a meaningful and contemporary building solution on this sensitive site.

The connection to the site and general locality is achieved through the selection of materials, such as locally sourced stone, a variety of timber cladding, rammed earth wall and careful consideration of the building form. The use of stone cladding from a local quarry, and the building scale and rooflines respects the materials and form of neighboring Grade 2 star Listed Barns. The addition of cedar shingle cladding reflects the tile cladding common to the local vernacular. The traditional materials are used in a way to create a unique and contemporary aesthetic, while carefully avoiding it being pastiche of the nearby buildings.

In addition to locally sourced natural materials, the environmental design principles are based around a passive solar design strategy, reinforced by the combination of breathable timber frame construction (super insulated with recycled newspaper), with thermal mass achieved through a large area of rammed earth wall and a double insulated sandwich concrete floor and screed combination. The building was constructed using high performance glazing and air tight, robust detailing achieving airtightness levels equivalent to the highest standards set in Canada and Sweden. Natural stack ventilation is used to help cool the building in the summer drawing air through the whole house and up through a double height space, and a ‘heat recovery’ ventilation system keeps warm fresh air circulated around the building in the winter with minimal energy use and heat loss.

The site has been ecologically enhanced with the proposed reinstatement of a historical species orchard, natural meadow planting and enhanced ‘Devon bank’ boundaries to create wildlife corridors and enhance the overall biodiversity of the site. Further to this, sewage is treated on site with a treatment tank, which filtrates into a natural drainage meadow before safely returning to the system as clean water. All other surface water drainage is either recycled for re-use in the house for flushing toilets, or is filtrated back into the ground through SUDS based permeable landscape design by the use of recycled demolition materials from the site clearance.

Renewable technologies for this ambitious project include a woodchip boiler, solar thermal panels, photovoltaics and rainwater harvesting making it a complete self sufficient dwelling with minimal reliance on external services. While we are proud to have met the brief for an ambitious client wishing to live a minimal impact life in harmony with their surroundings, the fundamentally inclusive approach to this project make it the first BREEAM Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 building in Devon, and one of the most environmentally friendly dwellings in the country.