A Closer Look: The Eyrie

The Eyrie - eco home

A closer look at the Eyrie, an energy efficient, contemporary family home. All in all, electricity, heating and hot water cost our clients just £1000 in the first year.

For 30 years our clients had lived in a 16th century oak-framed house in Suffolk. Though abundant in charm and character, such a building comes with all of the challenges associated with a listed property – cold, draughty and in need of continual maintenance.

When a falling-down bungalow in a nearby village came up for sale, they decided to buy it. The plot was ¼ acre and, unusually for Suffolk, situated on a secluded hillside with views across the Waveney Valley.

The brief: A sustainable eco home

In short, our brief was to design a highly-efficient 3 to 4 bedroom eco house that blended in with its environment and used as many renewable energy systems as possible. Though the clients were downsizing, they wanted a home that maintained a sense of space, one they could enjoy equally as much with their friends and grown-up children as they could just the two of them.

The Eyrie - eco home

Planning permission for an eco house

Planning stipulated that the form of the building and use of materials should reference the context of the area – albeit used in a contemporary way. When presented to the Parish council, the designs were met with an overwhelmingly positive response. The only element they were not keen on were plans for a metal roof which was swapped for red pantiles.

An ‘eyrie’ is a high lookout that offers views across the landscape below. Large windows throughout the property frame outstanding views. The main living areas – kitchen, dining, living area – are open plan, with the steep pitch of the roof creating an immense sense of height and volume.

Sustainable Architecture with a Prefabricated Design

Natural and sustainable materials were used whenever possible. By choosing a prefabricated timber-frame we were able to minimise material waste and maximise air tightness. The frame was highly-insulated in order to reduce internal temperature fluctuations.

The building was positioned to make the most of natural light and maximise solar gain from the south. The south-facing roof elevations host an array of 2.3kW PV cells and solar tubes to provide heating and hot water, whilst underfloor heating is connected to a ground source heat pump. Deep eaves were constructed over the veranda to prevent overheating in summer whilst maximising penetration of natural light through winter.

The Eyrie - low energy home

Building a low energy home

Externally, a combination of lime render, clay pantiles and larch timber cladding created a look reminiscent of a Suffolk barn. The garage, built from reclaimed flint with a sedum roof, provides shelter for a terrace with an outside kitchen – ideally positioned to enjoy the views.

A rainwater collection system provides water for the toilets and washing machine. In winter, a HETAS-approved wood burning stove acts as a secondary-source of heat on the coldest days. All in all, electricity, heating and hot water cost our clients just £1000 in the first year.

Author / Hudson Architects

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