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Green Credentials to the Fore

SHH have completed a new-build £1.1m house in North London for private clients, which seeks to go beyond the legal requirements for green and energy-saving technologies in new-build properties and to embody the best in stylish but eco-friendly contemporary housing solutions.

SHH's clients originally purchased an existing property on a 1960s North London estate, prior to obtaining planning permission to create the open, spacious and eco-friendly family home they envisioned. SHH were brought on board after the clients saw several of the company's residential projects in the Hampstead area and, in particular, their Pilgrim's Lane house (a RIBA Manser Medal finalist project).

The architects went on to create the blueprint for a 3,000 sq ft three-storey home and, in spite of the Conservation Area restrictions, the scheme gained full approval from the local authorities, partly because the proposed new replacement building boasted so many green elements and technologies, incorporated both at the client's behest and SHH's suggestion. These included solar panels to heat water; a geo-thermal heat pump with boreholes, which uses the natural underground earth temperature (of approximately 10-12°) both to heat and cool the house; a rainwater harvesting system, which reuses water for irrigation and WC flushing; improved building fabric U-values (exceeding current regulations); energy-efficient lighting and a cedar terrace deck with sedum planting around the perimeter.

The brief for the scheme was to create the ideal family home for a couple (with two young children), who had always wanted to have a home built from scratch to answer their precise needs.

The interior was to be open and light with clean lines and lots of storage, so that the house could be clutter-free. Open spaces were to enhance the flow of family life, integrating all activities and family members together. Large window and door openings along with a substantial lightwell at lower-ground level would bring as much daylight inside the house as possible.

The external look of the house mimics the previous home to a degree in terms of the division of façades, in order to blend in with the surrounding homes. Like the previous property, it also has a sloping roof, although the new house's roof slopes in the opposite direction from the original house in order to maximise south-facing rear glazing.

The external skin of the steel-framed house is built out of lightweight, Thermalite aeriated concrete blocks with high-performance insulation, with the resulting cavity wall construction creating extremely good 'U' values. The walls are finished at low level with high-quality, white, thin-layer render (with the colour integrated into the render rather than being added as a surface). Custom-cut cedar cladding from renewable sources is used at first floor level over the concrete blocks, with solid hardwood windows (in iroko) and matching balustrades to the flat roof terraced area. The window frames are stained but will also age naturally as the iroko matures.

All the double glazing on the scheme uses high quality argon-filled units to prevent heat loss. The whole sloping roof (eaves, soffit and top layer) is finished in powder-coated aluminium to prevent rust, with two inset 3m x 900mm solar panels on the rear elevation to soak in maximum sunlight.

Front elevation