Tomorrow's Town House
|Client||Daily Telegraph, Futureform & British Gas|
Design ACB was delighted to have been shortlisted for Tomorrow's Townhouse Competition, beating entries from some of the country's leading architectural practices. The competition was part of the British Home Awards sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, Futureform and British Gas.
The Stack House is designed to fit the maximum single Futureform module width of 4.2m and adopts a long, thin building form often associated with the traditional townhouse. The steel framed modules stack either side of the stair core in a split level section thereby minimising internal circulation and creating variation in levels and room heights.
To overcome the drawbacks of a long and narrow plan, we have introduced a light well in the centre of the plan. This serves as a core for daylight, ventilation and life throughout the house; some rooms open on to this vertical space whilst others borrow light. During summer months the rain sensing roof-light can slide open to promote stack ventilation and a connection with the outside. In winter heat collected at the top of the lightwell is recovered, exchanged with the incoming, pre-heated, fresh air and then distributed around the house. At night the insulated shutter retains heat.
As opposed to the traditional integral garage (which usually becomes a store for junk), we have developed a multi-use space which offers secure, covered parking and forms part of the entrance sequence into the house. This courtyard opens on to the internal lightwell to create a protected family/ play area thereby extending the open plan space the full length of the house. An ‘adult’s lounge’ and a flexible home working/ study space are situated on the first floor - both of which interact with the light well.
At the top of the lightwell is the roof terrace which acts like a traditional conservatory and as the heat recovery zone. It serves as a place to catch some sun or to listen to the sounds in the sky. This space contains a clothes drying space negating the requirement for a tumble dryer.
The bedroom accommodation is flexible, family bathroom or en-suites can be planned in several configurations and the home work space can also be converted to an additional bedroom. The lightwell is designed to accommodate a lift for access to the upper floors. Top level bedrooms open into the roof space and there is a hidden sanctuary to ‘get away from the chaos’ and read a book looking out onto the lightwell and sky above.
This house will permanently lower energy usage and, compared with contemporaneous similar dwellings, saving more than 25% of the carbon emissions - forever, prior to the addition of renewable technologies. Ridge-located horizontal axis wind generators, clear glass solar PVs and solar thermal panels lower the carbon emissions further still.
We recognise that building sustainable homes is more than just reducing carbon emissions. We also need to design, construct and use our homes in a way that minimises other environmental impacts, such as the water, waste, and the materials used.
The energy input for heat in our Townhouse is less than 0.5kW as a maximum in winter. Overall, we estimate 450kWh/annum being used for heating - less than 20% of similar houses. We have specifically selected high COP airsource heat pumps as the primary heating and hot water source because they are energy efficient, environmentally clean, and, a renewable resource. ASHPs also have the advantage that they are able to use promulgated benign, less-expensive electricity.
We have planned for the whole house to be supplied with ‘Green’ electricity - produced from sources which do not cause negative impacts upon the environment - and so further increase the sustainability credentials of this property. The ‘Green Energy Certification Scheme’ uses renewable energy so negligible CO2 is produced in the process.
The carbon footprint of our Townhouse is extemporary - but achievable with known technology. The house will achieve a Code 6 on the Code for Sustainable Homes scale. With the future code targets mapped out and 2016 fast approaching there is no reason to aim any lower.
The stacked modules lend themselves to alternative house configuration from two storey city pads to three storey family houses and a four storey Generation house. Catering for a variety of households and their changing needs.
In terraced or semi-detached layouts, the arrangements introduce assorted public and semi public areas creating diversity and community.
The form of the roof and skin provide a clear domestic/ residential identity, like the strong repetitive bay widows of nineteenth century townhouses. The skin is sheathed in recycled tyre rubber cladding and provides a neutral framework to develop street scenes encompassing regional variations and local materials.