Simon Winstanley Architects

Sustainable Architecture: The Houl

The house is sited in a natural concave of hillside facing west to enjoy the spectacular view of the river Ken valley and the Rhinns of Kells hills beyond. A great example of sustainable architecture, it embodies the practice’s current thinking about the design of the contemporary house – very low energy consumption (net zero carbon in this case) using very high levels of insulation, minimising air infiltration, heating by air source heat pump, whole house heat recovery ventilation and on site generation of electricity by wind turbine.

Sustainable Architecture

The Houl is a single storey long house with all the principal rooms addressing the view and the ancillary service spaces to the rear. The slope of the roof of the main living accommodation follows the slope of the hillside with the roof of the ancillary areas meeting the main roof at a shallower angle to allow morning sunlight to penetrate the house through clerestory windows. The entrance is sited on the north east side of the house under cover of the roof to provide shelter from the prevailing wind.

The construction uses a galvanized steel and timber frame with walls clad in naturally weathered silver grey cedar, triple glazed windows and roof finished with pre-weathered standing seam zinc. The galvanized steel frame is exposed externally on the main west elevation with underbuilding walls set back to make the house appear to sit lightly on the ground.

Galvanizing was chosen for its aesthetic appearance combined with the cedar cladding, and its long term weather protection. All materials and finishes were selected for their recyclability or renewable credentials. The project won the GAGA sustainable architecture award in 2012.

Images © Simon Winstanley and Andrew Lee Photographer