Milton Keynes
RIBA House of the future

Built in 1994, Futurehouse was a RIBA competition to design a house which would anticipate future trends in housing design. It was BBM’s first project and in effect launched the practice, announcing in the process the intention to pursue buildings which are less taxing on the environment and which afford the occupants to lead more sustainable lifestyles. It was built for a housing expo in Milton Keynes but at the time public awareness for the environment was a marginal concern so gaining public feedback from those visiting the project was a tremendous learning opportunity for the young practice.

Even today the list of features of Futurehouse are an impressive tour de force of low energy design:

  • Super insulated walls, roof and floors
  • Heavyweight internal fabric with insulation externally to protect against overheating in hot weather
  • A super insulated underground heat store
  • An underfloor labyrinth air reservoir for pre-treating supply air ventilation
  • A double height conservatory with an external solar shade for optimising seasonal solar gains
  • Centralised heating appliances to provide a warm core for the living environment
  • A large earth sheltered pantry to minimise spatial provision for refrigerated foodstuffs
  • Roof structure which facilitated the expansion of solar panels towards zero carbon us
  • Rigorously selected finishes and decorations which avoid unhealthy ‘off gassing’

Perhaps the single biggest energy saving device of Futurehouse was its dedicated home working space which anticipated the information technology revolution and was intended to allow the occupants to avoid the need for daily commuting. The space could be converted to a family annexe.