£295K Sustainable Housing Design Project

Whittaker Parsons architects

In 2020, Whittaker Parsons completed a sustainable housing design renovation project on a 3-bedroom Victorian London terrace, just in time for the UK lockdown. The project aimed to create a beautiful, functional space for a young family, offering them sanctuary in the middle of the Medway Conservation Area in East London.

The project involved extending, thermally upgrading, and remodelling the property using innovative, sustainable materials to create a sense of physical, mental, and social well-being. The side return extension, constructed from reclaimed London stock and white glazed brickwork, wood fibre insulation made from recycled wood chips, and exposed steelwork and concrete screed, blurs the threshold between interior and exterior space. The new mansard roof extension boasts a bamboo and cork-lined bedroom with bespoke built-in Moso bamboo joinery, and stunning views across the docklands.

Whittaker Parsons
Strahan Road by Whittaker Parsons. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2020

Working with Whittaker Parsons to extend and rejuvenate our compact Victorian home was a fantastic experience. From the outset, Matthew and Camilla understood our vision and enhanced our initial ideas by challenging our assumptions and suggesting novel approaches and materials.

In addition to Matthew and Camilla’s pivotal role in the design, they were instrumental in delivering the project through their project management expertise. This was vital as we were not based in our home through the works and were both working long hours. This allowed the design to emerge fully from the vision we set out to achieve, with a consistent and proper focus on the final details which were so important to us.

Whittaker Parsons
Strahan Road by Whittaker Parsons. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2020

Our home is now a wonderful family space with continuous, open, naturally lit spaces, whereas previously spaces were enclosed, cluttered and disjointed. Matthew and Camilla have helped us expose the fabric of the new structure and bring both light and space into our home, as well as connect existing areas to make them feel much larger. All in all, they have helped us add immeasurable value to our family life.

Andrew Long

The sustainable housing design approach was guided by the client’s needs, who wanted a complete renovation, including a master suite and family kitchen, within a relatively modest budget of £295,000. The design team limited the amount of new building proposed and focused on the creative specification and honest expression of internal finishes, which were cost-effective but also healthy and sustainable, improving the family’s well-being.

Subtle internal alterations brought more natural light into the property, making the newly refurbished spaces feel more spacious and better connected. Jute insulation, manufactured from discarded cocoa and coffee bean bags and processed with 100% renewable solar energy, was used to thermally upgrade the existing property while existing floorboards were retained and reused where possible.

Whittaker Parsons
Strahan Road by Whittaker Parsons. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2020

The project’s new volumes were carefully balanced to contrast with the original rooms in the house, to feel generous, and light, and to encourage natural ventilation. The new timber staircase and internal glazing create a feeling of openness and result in incredible views throughout the property while maintaining acoustic privacy.

This sustainable housing design project was selected for Open House this year and was long-listed and featured on Don’t Move Improve 2021, showcasing the success of the design team’s approach to sustainable design.

Sustainable House Project Features

Our approach was to build as little new build as possible to meet the client’s brief; to reuse, upgrade and salvage anything possible from the existing property. New materials were selected from renewable sources and the new build elements exceed current Part L building regulations.

We specified a range of sustainable materials:

– Reclaimed London Stock bricks and wood fibre insulation were used to form the new walls to the extension. Wood fibre insulation is carbon-negative and made from waste woodchips originally from sustainable timber sources. Due to its high thermal mass, wood fibre absorbs heat and releases it very slowly so the building does not overheat. Besides its thermal and acoustic benefits, the insulation has healthy natural and environmental properties.

– The cork flooring to the new bedroom and en-suite is environmentally friendly, warm and pleasant to the touch and provides excellent insulation.

– Sustainable Moso Bamboo panels were used to construct the bespoke joinery designed by Whittaker Parsons. For more on the products, and green credentials.

– Jute insulation, manufactured from discarded cocoa and coffee bean bags and processed with 100% renewable solar energy, is used to thermally upgrade the existing property.

– Neolith kitchen worktop is a resin-free product that does not release any harmful substance into the environment. It’s formed from natural products and is 100% recyclable.

Sustainable Housing Design

ArchitectWhittaker Parsons
Project Size150 m2
Project Budget£295,000
Completion Date2020
Building levels3
Property London

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