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The Lighthouse // Sheppard Robson: UK’s First Net Zero Carbon Home


Description from the architect’s website:

‘The Lighthouse is the UK’s first net zero-carbon house that also meets Level 6 (the highest level) of the Code for Sustainable Homes – the standard to which all new homes must be constructed by 2016. It is designed to provide a way of living that encourages lifestyles which are inherently ‘light’ on the world’s resources, balancing the practical requirements of homeowners with a response to the predicted UK climate change in the UK.

The design and construction of the house proves that a carbon-free house is achievable but it places the responsibility on both the technologies and its user. It is a living experience which relies on the occupant adapting their lifestyle; an action we all need to take if we are to make any real impact on the UK’s environmental future. The heart of the concept for the Lighthouse is the ambition to create homes where the innovative environmental systems and construction methods do not compromise the quality of the occupants’ life but add to it – creating adaptable, flexible spaces that are designed for sustainable modern living. The prototype is a 93m², two-and-a-half-storey, two bedroom house. It has been designed in line with Lifetime Homes and Housing Quality indicators. The structure of the Lighthouse is a simple barnlike form, derived from a 40 degree roof accommodating a PV array. The sweeping roof envelops the central space – a generous, open-plan, top-lit, double height living area, with the sleeping accommodation at ground level. The living space uses a timber portal structure so floors can be slotted between the frames or left open as required. At ground level a timber frame structural layout carries the vertical loads of the open-plan frames above and provides stability to the load bearing shear walls. Stability is achieved through the moment connections at first floor and ceiling level. It is constructed using Kingspan Off-Site’s TEK Building System – a high performance SIPS (structurally insulated panel based system).


To achieve Level 6 there is a mandatory heat loss parameter which demands high U-values for the building fabric. As a result, the ratio of glazing to wall in the Lighthouse is 18%, as opposed to 25-30% in traditional houses. This drove the decision to locate the living space on the first floor, enabling us to maximise daylight and volume, with a top-lit, double height living space.  Phase changing material in the ceiling absorbs the room heat by changing from solid to liquid within microscopic capsules embedded in the board. This process is reversed when the room is cooled with the night air, working with the passive system of the wind catcher.’

More pictures:

Published with permission of ArchiCentral.

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