Pinwell Road House

Construction Time: 12 months

Completion Date: Autumn 2005

Main Contractor: Self-Build

Awards: Winner of the Ibstock Downland Prize for best Sustainable Design 2006 and Norwich & Peterborough Building Society Eco house of the year 2007.

The clients for this project approached BBM with a brief for a new build house on an unpromising piece of ‘brownfield’ land at the foot of a partially demolished viaduct near the main-line railway station in the centre of Lewes in East Sussex. The new house would have to accommodate a family with eight children ranging in age from two to eighteen.  Additionally both parents would work from home.

After numerous study models, BBM and the Clients came up with a four-storey town house with a south-facing roof terrace. Amazingly the scheme had the full support of Lewes District Council’s Planning and Conservation Officers.  Neighbours were also supportive, so the project flew through the Planning Process.

A more challenging question was “how to build it?”. The site is land-locked by other houses on two sides and the three-storey viaduct immediately to the rear. The fourth side is a busy one-way back street to the railway station.

One of the clients was experienced in managing building projects and proposed the use of structural insulated panels or S.I.P. BBM developed the detailed CAD drawings and sent them up to BPAC to process into factory cut prefabricated panels. The panels are made up of two sheets of OS Board (large wood chips squashed into the board) with extruded polystyrene insulation between. The panels and assembly team arrived on site. Two weeks later the walls floors and roof were up and ready to fit out. This system reuses waste polystyrene for the insulation and waste timber for the OS panels. By designing and cutting the panels off site, time and material waste are much reduced. This saves money and natural resources.

Externally the house is finished in render and sweet chestnut cladding. The cladding is made from locally-sourced coppiced timber and is therefore very environmentally friendly. Internally lambs wool insulation is used in the floor and roof voids. The roof is topped off in zinc and an integrated solar water system.

The site itself was flooded in 2000 so the ground floor accommodation has had to be designed to be flood-proof. The walls are constructed in brickwork with all floor and wall surfaces are finished in ceramic tiles to ensure they can be cleaned if the River Ouse floods again. This level is dedicated to the garage, storage, workshop, entrance hall and shower.