Recently completed Focus House is an innovative addition to London’s growing sustainable housing market. Designed by leading environmental practice, bere:architects, Focus House is a low cost, low energy, low maintenance alternative to the standard family dwelling. Built on a wedge-shaped parcel of land using cutting-edge sustainable materials, the 250m2 structure is spatially inventive, yields a very low carbon footprint and is a template for ecologically advanced living.
Focus House stands out from its setting of traditional British terraced housing, its grey zinc envelope contrasting with the Victorian brick work of its surroundings. Instead of concrete and steel, the building has a timber superstructure – with negligible levels of embodied energy – over which was applied sheets of Foamglas to create a thick insulation and impermeable vapour barrier. The Foamglas is wrapped by the zinc skin to provide a tough durable exterior, and to further insulate the structure from the outside.
Inside, the ground floor opens from a width of 2.8 metres through to 7 metres to the rear and is designed as a general living space and kitchen-dining area furnished with oak flooring and rosewood fittings. Large Scandinavian sliding windows span the rear of the building, looking out over a zen-like garden and allowing natural light to flood in. Up a short flight of stairs the first floor comprises a study, which juts out over the front entrance, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, arranged in a linear sequence with a corridor connecting all rooms. A second flight of stairs connects the first floor to a second bathroom and master bedroom with commanding views of the surrounding neighbourhood. The top two rooms can be closed off from the children’s’ bedrooms below for privacy.
The walls, floors and roof slabs consist of cross-laminated timber slabs made from sustainable sources.
Additional sustainable methods and materials include adhering to guidelines influenced by the German PassivHaus system, a heat recovery system and solar thermal technology to provide hot water.
Bere Architects, used PassivHaus principles to inform their process. The world’s leading energy efficiency standard, Passivhaus recognizes buildings that are so energy efficient all they need is a small electric heater. Focus House is a unique design that embodies the prefab principles of waste reduction and efficiency, and raises the bar on energy-efficient building design.
The building was completed from start, on site, to full fit-out in only six months and has already won several prestigious awards including a regional Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award and the Small House of the Year award at the British Homes Awards 2007.
Published with permission of ArchiCentral.