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The site has been in the family's ownership for decades and finally, following its adoption into the local plan, the family can realise a permanent connection to the land.

category
Client Journey
author
Lewis Johnson
date
November 7, 2020

Four houses. One site. Four clients. One Family. A brief narration through the process.

Our first solo project. One which would ultimately be the catalyst for the studio's growth into what it is today. After being approached in 2018 to gain permission for a single home on the Greenfield site, it was later realised that four homes were ultimately desired, and instead of a piecemeal approach, an outline application would be the best decision moving forward to address the scheme as a holistic whole. The single, consistent application would illustrate a relationship between all 4 units. Initially, the two western dwellings were far larger, arranged over two full floors with vaulted ceilings and two distinct gables to control the overall height. The rationale behind this was that these dwellings addressed and responded to the larger dwellings along Churchill Way, and as the scheme moved further out into the field where it was more exposed, the scale decreased addressing the neighbouring dwellings on the opposite side of Staddon Road instead.

Following pre-application advise, it was suggested that this strategy would likely not be supported, hence the reduction in size and scale to realise 4 homes of the same appearance. Individuality would be addressed internally to suit the specific user and their family, but the exterior would remain consistent for continuity. It was, however, decided to continue on the basis of plot-by-plot applications as some clients were more eager to move forward at a faster pace than others.

As a result, applications were approved in 2019 and 2020, the former breaking ground in April of this year. Due to the self build nature of the site, it was unlikely that all four homes would be built-out consistently due to differing circumstances. In this instance, the construction method was greatly shaped by the client who's experience of the construction industry gained as a local builder led to deciding upon a Nudura system. The uninterrupted nature of the site means that it is exposed to high winds and driven rain from the coastline nearby. To ensure a peaceful and comfortable internal environment, the building fabric must be able to withstand the natural elements. The client, a self-proclaimed masonry purist, veered away from blockwork in this instance, favouring a ICF (Insulated Concrete Formwork) method of construction. ICF uses polystyrene connected with a web system that allow the forms to be stacked and steel reinforced. The polystyrene forms are then built up on site and filled with ready-mixed concrete. The polystyrene combined with the concrete provides a thermal mass, allowing the structure to be heated and cooled more effectively. This allowed the bulk of the building fabric to be erected within just 4 weeks, with the pre-fabricated trussed roof continuing the trajectory the project moved in. It allowed the building to become watertight quickly, and made completion and inhabitation by Christmas 2020 a likely possibility.

Closing Thoughts

The decision to approach the Local Planning Authority (LPA) intially wiht a holistic scheme initroduced them to the premise of the scheme and site strategy, which was felt to be even more beneficial since the applications did not come forward together, and instead were submitted separately. The awareness the LPA had of the scheme and the holistic approach allowed them an understanding of the ambition, and overcame what could be viewed as a peicemeal approach.

The build has run smoothly, with weather conditions often being favourable during key points of construction. Timing the erection of the polystyrene formwork to avoid high winds and ensuring shuttering/additional support was in place during the concrete pour avoided potential threats associated with the use of the Nudura system.

Currently, one single home stands alone on the site, but as time moves on, and circumstances allow, the dwelling will be acompnaied by the remaining 3, tieing the development into the existing building pattern.

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