We were appointed in 2013 by a private client who had purchased a courtyard of four Victorian barns near Wouldham overlooking the Medway River and in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The barns came with planning approval for conversion to three family homes, however the design and layout did not suit our client’s requirements nor was the design sympathetic to our client’s ambitious environmental brief.
The brief was to create two family homes, a single storey dwelling for our retired client and his wife in barn B and a 2 storey dwelling for his daughter and family in the attached barn A. The old cart shed, barn D, at the north of the site, was to be used for garages, parking and possibly a plant room, with barn C, the old dairy, made structurally sound but otherwise left undeveloped.
Passivhaus, Dulwich Estate
Our client wanted the conversions to be "extremely eco-friendly". This sustainable approach was to be based on sound scientific principles and utilise sophisticated controls, extremely high standards of insulation, direct solar gain and high thermal capacity. The brief also included rain and grey water re-use as well as increasing wildlife and biodiversity on the site.
We agreed early on in the process that the building should meet the Passivhaus standard and be fully certified. Passivhaus would form the minimum energy standard for the project, but the overall approach was to be Passivhaus + with on site renewable energy generation, use of recycled and reclaimed materials and intelligent energy saving controls. Longevity of the building was also an important part of the brief which would influence design and material choices.