First Impressions
First Impressions

Case Studies

Here you will find more detailed information on completed and on-going projects.

Straw Bale House, Bolton. East Yorkshire

Historically attempts were made to re-model the existing dormer bungalow to provide better family accommodation, however due to the juxtaposition of the house with the neighbouring farmhouse, neighbour objections and planners intransigence it became self evident that the building was in the wrong place on the site to afford any improvements.
The Clients, Chris and Gill took an extreme step and bravely demolished the bungalow. This gave them a potentially clean slate to embrace as much 'eco architecture' as possible. The design and material choices were very much Client led with the architectural response enabling them to visualise their dream home. There was an overall need to allow for connection and flow throughout the building and intergration of the existing garage to alleviate neighbour issues especially any party wall legalities.


The hub of the home is the kitchen area, which is spacious enough to eat in on a daily basis and connects with the more formal dining area via folding sliding doors to allow for free flow when required. The front of the house has a spacious living area complete with expansive window seat to catch the evening sun. Upstairs there are two equal sized bedrooms for their two sons, master bedroom with en-suite, main bathroom, guest room and study. The roof space is large enough to afford a playroom and storage.

Light and views also played a part in the design as the site overlooks open fields to the North east, but orientation for the sun was also key balanced with overlooking issues.



The choice of straw bale construction was a challenge as it is a completely different method of building and detailing. The straw forms the external envelope but also gives extremely good thermal insulation naturally. The walls have to remain breathable and issues with moisture drainage have to be carefully thought through. From the outset it was decided that a Glulam timber structure would be used, albeit straw can be built up to two storeys without any structure, due to the long length of walls and potential wind load we erred on caution. A plywood/timber sole plate was built at ground, first floor and eaves level, which was mechanically fixed back to the timber structure with pallet strapping being used to tie each level together.



All the openings have to be strengthened with plywood carcassing and due to the depth of the walls it was possible to design splayed jambs which increases the amount of light entering the rooms as well as providing aesthetic detail. The roof design was complicated by the insistence of the planning department to have the roof facing the street and not allowing a gable frontage. However, these difficulties were overcome by the Structural Engineers and a usable space afforded for storage and the mechanical equipment required. Both the roof and the floor are heavily insulated to ensure that the entire building envelope can work as one enabling the installation of a heat recovery system, solar thermal and solar photovoltaics with an air source heat pump as back up in winter.

Additional images for this project:

3 Victoria Road Cambridge


The existing home comprised a traditional two-up two-down cottage, this was the original house on Victoria Road and subsequently became squeezed between 3 and 4 storey buildings during the late 19th Century. The street lies within a Conservation area in Cambridge. The Clients decided to demolish their home and replace it with a four storey dwelling complete with full length basement to be more in keeping with the neighbouring dwellings. The brief was to provide a lifetime family home, which incorporates a basement area for social events and the potential for a future internal lift with accessibility to most areas as well as achieving as high an EPC rating as possible. Triple glazing, underfloor heating, MVHR and solar photovoltaics are all included in the design. The Clients required flush ceilings with no downstand structure and an open plan layout for the basement and ground floor.


This project was a very brave undertaking by the Clients, as the very nature of demolishing and starting again with  a clean slate was not appreciated by the neighbours. Many difficulties had to be overcome throughout the build process not least because of design changes, which required resubmission to Planning. The build was so contentious that non material amendments were not allowed and the provision of open plan elements required the involvement of a Fire Engineer to provide supporting documentation as part of the Building Regulations submission.


The resulting home however provides an amazing light filled ground floor space, contrasting subterranean living space with spacious bedrooms and bathrooms galore packed full of quirky details all to the Clients high end specification, making the blood sweat and tears all worthwhile.

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