In 2012, Ash Sakula won an open design competition to construct three exemplary carbon-neutral homes, which contained embedded cues for sustainable living and could be replicated on other sites.
The scheme consists of a terrace of three two-storey houses. The jury of housing professionals and local residents were persuaded by Ash Sakula’s careful attention to how people actually want to live and how the houses would work, and were excited by a proposal that brings the construction industry closer to turning out homes that are inherently sustainable.
Ash Sakula went on to develop a range of different configurations for the eco-terrace typology, including three- and four-bedroom variants and a variety of layouts.
The houses are organised around a simple, compact core of accommodation that is easy to build, insulate and heat, and easy to live in. In the living room, which runs the full depth of the house, the light from windows at each end subtly define two distinct realms of activity - a seating / TV zone and an study / homework zone.
Upstairs, there are two double bedrooms and a bathroom and a spacious, high-ceilinged landing that is configured as a laundry area with a traditional clothes dryer, suspended below a skylight.
The houses are well adapted for inclusive living and meet all aspects of the detailed Lifetime Homes criteria, meaning that they can be adapted over time to meet changing needs and growing infirmity. Thresholds are level, circulation is sufficient for non-ambulant users and the downstairs WC can convert into a shower room.
The design is closely attuned to the rhythms and rigours of family life. Indoors and outdoors have been thoughtfully connected. Homes are entered through a glassed, uninsulated, indoor-outdoor room - a meet-and-greet threshold space that serves as a boot room, greenhouse, playspace and all-round stress-reducing extra space. An additional external store comfortably houses bicycles and tools.
The wild garden behind the houses is shared, but each house has its own sunken patio, accessed from the living room - a subtle and innovative treatment of the boundary between personal and communal space.
Plants have been selected that encourage wildlife to diversify and flourish.
A tall, skinny building at the entrance to the terrace houses a communal recycling and refuse storage area; it also provides an attic-home for bats and eaves for house martins to nest in.
This is simple construction, using low-cost, durable materials. Low-impact living is built in. Intelligent provision has been made for cycling, drying clothes naturally and recycling and south-facing roofs are fitted with photovoltaic panels, while smart meters and energy display units give residents the tools they need to live economically and sustainably. Ash Sakula’s signature focus on friendly informal communality has found expression in the shared garden and communal refuse and recycling facilities.
Architect and Landscape Architect: Ash Sakula
Client: The Radian Group
Contractor: FE Chase
Structural Engineer: Civic Engineers
M+E Engineer: P3r Engineers
BREEAM Consultant: Eight Associates
Cost Consultant: PT Projects
Client’s Agent: Boulter Mossman
Schedule: Three 2-bedroom terraced houses for social rent
GIA: 94 m2
Commenced: March 2014
Completed: April 2015
2016 RIBA South Award for Architecture
2016 RIBA Stephen Lawrence Award Shortlist
2015 What House? Award
2012 First Prize Whitehill Bordon Competition
Timber frame constructed in situ
An energy efficient building envelope, with a compact insulated core and an un-insulated entrance and storage zone
High levels of airtightness
Locally sourced sweet chestnut shakes to pitched roofs and north wall
Green flat roofs slow water run-off and promote biodiversity
Triple-glazed timber windows and external doors
Materials carefully selected and sourced
Gas condenser boiler and radiators
Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR), stack ventilation through house with secure rooflight and window vents
On-site energy generation from photovoltaic panels to south-facing roofs
Good daylighting through generous windows
Low energy lighting and appliances
Water-saving and harvesting: low water taps, small size bath, rainwater butts
Encouragement of biodiversity