Miles Sampson Ecological & Sustainable Architecture Ireland

Patchwork Quilt

ORDNANCE SURVEY IRELAND LICENCE NO. AR 0096608 © Ordnance Survey Ireland and Government of Ireland

Patchwork Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Construction Progress

The site is located in north County Cork about 5 miles west of Mallow in rich farm land know as the Golden Vale. The extensive cultivation has helped characterise the landscape as "Rolling Patchwork Farmland", that is to say that when viewed from above the landscape looks like a patchwork quilt. Instead of patches of fabric the landscape is made up of patches of grassy fields of various sizes and shades of green depending on the crops and level of grazing (see aerial photo).

The design of the house takes its inspiration from this rolling patchwork landscape. The roofs of the houses will appear as a series of smaller patches within the surrounding landscape. It will be like a patchwork quilt spread over the house to keep it warm. This is achieved by using a number of grass sod roofs at different levels and sizes to cover the house. The grass roof will reuse sod taken from the site during excavations for foundations, therefore further ensuring that the house integrates with the surrounding landscape. Even from the road and neighbouring fields the house will harmonize with the surroundings because the roof will be visible. The mass of the house will be broken by lower roofs that skirt the north and east elevations. This will further ensure that the house blends better with the landscape and does not have the overpowering appearance of mono volume houses. The north east elevation that faces the public road will have a natural stone wall that will edge the driveway and help define the entrance door. The natural stone cladding will be at low level, to express it weight and origin in the ground. On select parts of the elevation timber cladding is use to express elements of the building, like the entrance door and central hallway on the north east elevation.

Site Design

The initial decisions on the site layout have a huge influence on how energy efficient the house is and how satisfactory it will be to live in. First of all the driveway and parking area are located to the north of the proposed house. This is because if you placed the parking area on any other side it would use up valuable garden that receives sunlight. replica watches uk The north is also a good location for the entrance door of the house, as it connects with the hallway and is sheltered from the prevailing southwest winds. The lawn and play area for children is located to the south where it will receive the majority of the sunlight and is close to the living spaces of the house. The vegetable garden is located to the east, where it is close to the utility room and kitchen. The existing trees along the roadside boundary will be retained and additional planting of trees will be done on this side of the site to provide additional screening to traffic noise.

Building Layout

The layout of the house has the living spaces to the south where they will benefit from the solar gains and enhanced daylight. On the north side are located the service rooms, bathrooms, utility and entry hallway. These rooms are more suited to the north side because they require a lower working temperature and less sunlight. replica watches uk The hallway and stairs are centrally located to allow easy access to all rooms and reduce the amount of area given over to circulation space. Above the stairs and central hallway are roof lights to bring natural daylight into the centre of the house. The utility is located on the east side of the house where it will be close to the garden and the den/study is located near the entrance where is can be accessed directly from the front door or even used as a study or home-office. Having the living room, dining room and sitting room on the south gives them easy access to the garden, making a connection between indoors and outdoors and increasing the usable area of the house.

Contemporary Design

This proposal is for a contemporary style house, but what is a contemporary house?

First of all, contemporary style should not be confused with modern style architecture. Modern style architecture emerged at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of new materials; steel, glass, concrete and a desire to do away with excessive unnecessary decoration. Modernism is no longer a relevant style of architecture to today´s needs.

On the other hand traditional style houses suffer from a few main problems when designed for today's needs. Today's houses are much larger than traditional cottages were and traditional cottages were based around people living from the land, and not by way of a car. Also when modern technologies, like solar panels, are installed on traditional style houses, they take away from the traditional appearance of the house. cartier replica But these technologies are important to help Ireland reduce its carbon emissions. When today´s needs are accommodated in a traditional style house the results can sometimes be disastrous and result in oversized clones from a lost era.

Contemporary architecture is the architecture of today. It should reflect today´s:
1.Client´s needs 2.Materials 3.Technology 4.Location and 5.Historical context.

Many will say that it is not possible to include all the above references in one building, but in this project we have attempted to do so in the following ways:

  1. The client´s needs. The house is located beside the applicants mother in the area where the client grew up and has his roots. The size of the site is restricted by the land that is currently owned by the family and this site is appropriate because it is affordable to the client.
  2. Materials. The materials selected have been chosen because they reflect the landscape around the site. As mentioned above the roof are finished with grass sod taken from the site. The white render will be
  3. reminiscent of traditional white washed cottages. This choice of local natural stone will be recycled from the vicinity. Timber cladding is used and will relate to the woods across the road and existing mature trees on the site. Furthermore the site will also be planted with deciduous trees by the client who is an enthusiastic gardener. The connection between the timber cladding and the trees is obvious and will look appropriate.
  4. Technology. Solar panels are so beneficial in so many ways that it would be foolish not to include them on any new house (even planning legislation acknowledges this by exempting them from planning permission). They will save energy, save money and help Ireland reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. In this house the solar panels have been made a feature above the stairs. Large areas of high thermal performance glazing will ensure ample solar gains (see above) and create a connection between the interior and exterior.
  5. Location. The design is inspired by the patchwork landscape therefore the house will be unmistakably of this location. On the site the house has been carefully located so that it is elevated enough to get ample sunlight, but still ensure a sufficient south facing garden. It is also placed at a distance from the public road to reduce the intrusion of traffic noise.
  6. Historical context. A building should also represent current beliefs and be something that future generations can look back on with pride and understanding of the times we now live in. As the world is facing the climate change crisis it is clear that energy efficient houses are necessary to protect the world, and this project expresses the design criteria so that future generations can look back and understand the importance of this development in architecture.

Sustainable Design (key features)

  1. The use of vegetation and landscaping to protect the house against dominant prevailing winds. The house is located so that the outdoor living areas are on the sunny south side of the house.
  2. Existing trees and hedgerows will be preserved and additional planting will take place to provide natural habitat for native birds and insects.
  3. The house is designed to increase solar gains therefore minimising energy used for heating. Warmer habitable rooms are on the south side while cooler service rooms on the north side. Glazing on the south fa├žade has been maximised to increase solar gains while windows are limited to the north to reduce heat loss.
  4. Grass sod roof. Typically when a house is built on a green field site the existing nature where the house is to be placed is destroyed. But when the house has planted roofs, this is not the case; instead a new habitat is created for plants and insects. In addition grass roofs do not create impermeable surfaces that have to be drained. They have a capacity to retain and absorb rain water therefore stabilising the flow of water discharged. Grass and soil do not require manufacturing therefore do not produce waste during production and do not diminish mineral resources, unlike concrete or metal that depletes natural resources and generate tons of carbon in their production. In addition planted roofs will neutralise a large quantity of carbon over its working life, making for a more sustainable future.
  5. Walls will be constructed using timber frame construction. Timber being a renewable material, unlike concrete, does not require large amounts of carbon to fabricate. The trees growth also helps absorb carbon gasses and when timber is put into a building carbon is essentially taken out of the atmosphere and locked away. Plus timber frame construction allows higher levels of insulation to be installed, further reducing energy consumption.
  6. Where a masonry finished is used, recycled natural stone has been selected. Natural stone has the advantage that it does not require manufacturing (which produces carbon) and it can be sourced locally. Also the advantage of using recycled stone means that the walls will have a natural weathered look rather than looking fresh out of the quarry.
  7. Superior levels of insulation will be installed. Insulation is the simplest form of energy reduction and environmental protection in a house. As the largest amount of energy consumed in a standard house is for space heating, by reducing this need you are making simple energy savings. And the greatest benefit of insulation is that once it is installed it costs nothing to run, unlike other heating systems.
  8. All details are designed to almost eliminate all cold bridging. High levels of insulation are well and good, but you still need a structure to the house, and this can lead to cold bridging at edges and through the structure itself. Once this problem is recognised an experienced architect can detail the structure to reduce all this cold bridging, therefore increasing the overall insulation of the house and reducing energy loss.
  9. High performance glazing. Window are always an area of higher heat loss due to their relative low insulation quality, but glazing technology is currently undergoing a revolution and even higher standards of heat retention are achievable. A U-Value of 1.1W/m²K is readily available and with U-Values of 0.6 W/m²K (as used on my own house that was featured on Duncan Stewarts "about the house" TV program) entering the market, heat loss through windows can be controlled. For this project a minimum U-Value of 1.1 W/m²K will be used.
  10. Timber Window Frames. Timber is a renewable material, unlike aluminium or PVC which depletes mineral resources, creates excessive waste and produce harmful dioxins. It also has a better insulation value.
  11. Many timber frame houses are clad in a layer of blocks which counteracts many of the environmental benefits of timber frame construction (because huge amounts of carbon dioxide are produced in the manufacture of cement). This project is clad in a rendered timber fibreboard system. Growing timber helps absorb carbon gasses and when timber is put into a building carbon is essentially taken out of the atmosphere and locked away.
  12. The use of environmentally friendly cement. Even though this is a timber frame house, concrete is still necessary for the foundations and floor slab but unfortunately most concrete is made using Portland cement which consumes huge amounts of energy to manufacturer. Luckily an Ecocem product is now available in Ireland which is produced from a waste product of the steel industry, GGBS. This hugely reduces the carbon footprint created with the use of concrete.
  13. Use cellulose recycled newspaper insulation. It doesn't have the high levels of embodied energy (energy required to manufacture and therefore the quantity of carbon created during production) associated with chemical insulations, plus it reuses a waste product. Now it is being manufactured in Ireland, further reducing energy consumed for transportation and reducing the amount of waste produced in Ireland. Also, because it is installed through a system of pumping, it means cold gaps and drafts in the construction are simply eliminated.
  14. There is no point in insulating a house unless it is draft proof. And we don't just mean the doors and windows because a surprising amount of air escapes through gaps in the construction and fixtures. This warm air has consumed energy to heat, and it is just being let escape. The solution is to provide an airtight vapour barrier outside a service cavity. This insures that the electrical and plumbing services do not puncture the air tight seal and has the added advantage of providing higher insulation levels. A further benefit is that moisture is blocked from entering the structure, eliminating potential rot and mildew.
  15. Even a super insulated house has to be ventilated to ensure good indoor air quality. But ventilation means heat loss, doing away with the benefits of additional insulation. This does not have to be the case, because by installing a ventilation heat recovery unit, the air that is entering the building is heated by the air exiting the building. This makes huge energy savings and ensures an even higher standard of air quality than conventional means of ventilation, and Energy Savings = Environmental Benefits.
  16. Flat plate solar thermal water heaters. They will meet a large amount of the house's hot water need substantially reducing fossil fuel consumed. Even in winter the panels are effective by increasing the temperature of the water, which decreases the energy used to heat the water. The panels are integrated into the roof, to further increase their efficiency and make use of them as a cladding material, reducing the amount of material needed.
  17. Permeable external pavements, driveways and paths. Creating large areas of sealed parking and paving causes even more rainwater to be directed into a treatment system or drainage system. This deprives the soil of ground water, causes more flooding and places a higher demand on drainage systems. This does not need to be the case, by the simple use of permeable surfaces, such as gravel and specially designed paving, rainwater is allowed to percolate into the ground.
  18. There will not be a concrete path running around the whole building which would isolate it from the site and surrounding landscape. Instead plants and the lawn will grow beside the wall of the house. See attached pages 20 & 22 from the County Cork Rural House Design Guide for further information.
  19. A wood burning stove will provide space heating and additional water heating. Wood is a renewable source and is carbon neutral i.e. the carbon produced when burning the wood is absorbed during the growth of the trees.

Construction Progress

Miles Sampson Eco Architect - Project Updates