There’s something special about seeing one’s work in print. We are all so used to digital media, so it makes a pleasant change to flick through the pages of a glossy magazine and see a project we have designed featured. That is the case for this off-grid house we designed in rural Dorset.
Sometimes you are lucky enough as an Architect to meet a client and view a site, both of which are equally inspiring. That was definitely the case with this project. Right from the start it captured our imagination; living off the grid, without any mains services in a secluded woodland. That’s a dream of many people but one few are able to realise.
Our design concept was to convert and and extend an existing storage building to add a “living wing” that would reach out of a clearing in the trees to engage with the landscape. The resulting home responds to the rural vernacular and form of the existing building and of course, the woodland setting.
The site is an isolated location within an AONB and a development like this would ordinarily be outside of planning policy. We are able to argue successfully that it would be enabling development for the conservation of an ancient lime kiln in the field above the wood. A positive engagement with Historic England along with the client’s tenacity and determination helped achieve a positive outcome.
A fabric first approach to construction means the energy demand for the house is very low. A solar array and 30kw battery storage generates electricity needs for cooking, heating and lighting. On rare days in winter, a back up generator kicks in, but the total running costs for the house in the two years it has been lived in amount to just £250, not including the free electricity generated to power their electric car!
The house is a great example of sustainable design and construction, demonstrating how to live off-grid in style and comfort. As our clients’ commented, “nobody foresaw the energy cost increases, but we definitely did the right thing building an off grid home and love living here.”