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Passive solar design, of which this project is an example, can result in buildings which are at once economical to run and a delight to live in.

The simple principle of allowing the sun in to heat the building in winter whilst excluding it to prevent overheating in summer is optimised here with a highly glazed, fully south facing wall with a veranda providing summer shading. The walls, roof and floor of the house are highly insulated and north facing windows limited to those needed to supplement daylight to the interior.

At the design stage the heating load during a typical January day was estimated at around 10kW, around half of which was due to heat transfer through the house structure and half due to ventilation and air leakage. As there is a supply of wood available on site, the house is heated by a small, 11kw, woodburning stove with integrated boiler, supplemented by about 2m² of solar water heating panels. Both heat sources are connected through a heat store to underfloor heating on the ground floor.

The effectiveness of the design became evident in the winter of 2010/11, when nightime temperatures regularly fell to -5°C and remained below freezing all day. The heating system readily maintained indoor temperatures at 21°C with temperatures falling overnight by 2°C.

The real interest in houses such as this, however, is not in the environmental engineering alone, but in how these necessities are integrated into the concept and fabric of the living spaces, and hence the design expression, to afford balanced sensations of warmth, light, enclosure and protection, so central to human wellbeing.
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