Upper Twyford Studio
Introduction Upper Twyford demonstrates the possibilities for transforming derelict structures into modern sustainable buildings. It was also an opportunity for Architype to develop our approach to sustainable design, which we describe as ‘eco-minimalism’. This approach is based on assessing from first principles what is actually the most efficient and effective way of achieving long term sustainability. At Upper Twyford this meant avoiding tech-no fixes and add-ons, and focusing on making the basic architecture work in an efficient sustainable way. Learning by doing The design, construction and occupation of Upper Twyford was also envisaged as a learning process for Architype, and so the building is being monitored in use. This monitoring is enabling us to: • compare performance with theoretical predictive models, so that we can understand the relationship between prediction and performance • assess our subjective experience of comfort against the building’s actual performance • experience at first hand natural ventilation and daylighting, thermal mass and night cooling, high levels of insulation and airtightness • achieve further energy reductions over time Upper Twyford has become a focus for how we as individuals and as a practice can develop more sustainable ways of living and working. Economic sustainability It is also having a positive impact on the local economy and is influencing debate about the sustainable economic development of the Herefordshire economy. For example we: • buy fuel (woodchips) from local supplier and woodlands • have daily staff lunch supplied by a local café that sources local organic ingredients • have vegetable box scheme delivery to the office, for staff then to take home • have sublet space to establish a new business selling ecological paints and green building products • encourage cycling to work by staff • recycle our waste and buy office supplies from sustainable and fairtrade sources • host regular visits and lectures from local organisations Upper Twyford demonstrates the potential for high quality employment in rural locations dispersed around the county, rather than locating in existing towns and industrial parks. Design Approach With a sensitive respect for Upper Twyford’s history, and an appreciation of it’s context in the landscape, our aim was to create a modern workplace from the ruins of the old barn, which was an exemplar of sustainable contemporary design, and an inspirational place to work. We set out to create a design studio amply lit by daylight, providing exceptional views across fields and woodlands, unpolluted by chemical treatments, naturally ventilated and heated, with ample space for working, meeting and socialising. Externally at ground floor level the barn is rough stone but the partly rebuilt first floor is constructed from and clad in untreated Douglas fir. This is departure from the original building, which was all stone because substantial parts of the original stone building had fallen down or were very weak. At first floor level we replaced the stone with timber framed construction. The pitched roof is reclaimed Welsh slate. A studio space has been inserted at first floor level and is set back from the glass screens creating double height spaces at both the front and rear entrances to the building. The centre of the Barn is a light, open space with floor to ceiling views across open countryside from both sides. The screens provide the main source of daylight to both ground and first floors. This is supplemented by a clerestory window at first floor level that provides a high level of light without glare, and numerous windows at both ground and first floor level. The clerestory window is hardly visible from the outside, hidden as it is below the eaves. The downstairs space features untreated materials. The remaining sound stone of the original barn has been re-pointed and is partnered with a raw screed floor which, with the walls, provides thermal mass for cooling and heating, and a rough wood wool ceiling. The spacious central area is the main meeting and socialising area for the practice. The first floor studio is light, airy and modern, featuring beautifully crafted exposed timber, daylight and views. Eco-design principles A summary of the principles of eco-design applied to the project, are: • Orientation and the use of daylight and sunlight for light and solar gain • Use of ‘breathing’ timber construction • Use of thermal mass • Using high levels of insulation • Minimise cold bridging • High performance windows and doors • A range of options for natural ventilation • Biomass boiler for heating and hot water • Re-use of materials from original building • Use of UK sourced timber • Adoption of state of the art water efficiency measures • Natural paints and stains • Innovative low energy purpose made light fittings • Landscaping to extend local biodiversity


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