Designing an experimental low carbon house

We were delighted to have worked with the National Centre for Joint International Research of Low Carbon Green Buildings at Chongqing University, one of the leading higher education schools in China. The university gave us a brief to look into a feasibility design for a new ‘Lab House’ for Huzhou, a city located on by Lake Tai (the third largest freshwater lake in China) and just over 90 miles to the west of Shanghai.

The brief was to create a British style contemporary house, that delivers a low carbon sustainable dwelling, responding to the major challenge of our age, the climate change emergency. Each of the design concepts have unique ways in which to meet these criteria.

We presented three initial ideas, taken the traditional idea of a British dwelling and used these as drivers for concepts, putting great importance on the quality of space and light within. The three concepts include a Courtyard House, a Gable House and a Great Hall House. Each design idea delivers a piece of 21st contemporary architecture with British styling, delivered suitable for the existing context.

The designs are fundamentally low energy, low carbon, sustainable solution for the site condition. We have employed fabric first solutions to the designs, including naturally insulating materials, concrete floors to act as a heat sink, height levels of insulation and U values, cross ventilation, solar shading, designed for solar gain and draught lobbies. Adding technology to enhance the design, such as rainwater storage and attenuation, bio mass, ground source heat pump.

The Courtyard; inspired by the classical country house with walled kitchen garden. The home wraps around this internal sheltered courtyard space, offering a source of fresh air to allow for natural cross ventilation, the layout is optimized for shading and solar gains to give passive   internal courtyard allows for cross ventilation, a secluded and sheltered courtyard.

The Gable House; taking the architectural lines from English residential architecture with a classic gabled roof. The design idea adds a glazed living space, with ‘slides’ out from the gabled volume. In concept the single storey glazed addition offers spaces for a green roof on top, the gabled roof gives space for maximum insulation levels and

Great Hall House; taking design cues from the large formal stately homes with a generous multi-function hall at the center of the dwelling with all functions branching off. Our concept uses this layout principle, with a  large, double height space at the heart of the building which encourages natural ventilation throughout.