Eco Arc Architects

Lancaster Cohousing

This ground-breaking exemplary, owner-occupied eco housing project has evolved through a participatory design process with the 41 individual householders and Eco Arc Architects.

The aim was to design a neighbourhood based upon Passivhaus / ecological values, where it is very easy to live a sustainable lifestyle in the broadest sense. Currently it is the largest certified Passivhaus housing project in the UK, containing 23 three bed family houses, 12 two bed family houses and 6 one bed flats. It has achieved Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 (carbon neutral) and Life Time Homes, affordable community housing project. Shared community facilities include an on-site workspace; a common house for shared meals, socialising and events; laundry; bike store and workshop; food cooperative; guest bedrooms; children’s room and orchard.

The community owns 2.5 ha of land including woodland which it is managing and restoring with native plants. The development is designed to facilitate casual social interaction and to encourage sharing. There is a car club and all vehicles are kept to the edge of the site. The homes and hot water are heated by a district heating system. This has a 5,000 litre storage vessel heated by a 40kW solar thermal array and a 150kW boiler fuelled by local wood chip. There are 50 kW of photovoltaics connected via an electricity micro-grid. The design brief also provided for a 100 year design life, rather than the 60 years typically used for new housing. For this reason, extensive use of galvanized steel has been made with external finishes, and external works such as balconies, porches and staircases. The long-term durability and the reduced need for maintenance through the life of the building made galvanized steel the logical material choice.

Images © Luke Mills & Eco Arc Architects