Dig in for an eco-friendly home
You don't have to be an eco-warrior to appreciate the benefits of living in this very special home. Powered by and filled with sunlight, this four-bedroomed earth-sheltered house has all a family could ask for - it's comfortable, cheap to run and has a garden any child would love to run wild in.
You don't have to be an eco-warrior to appreciate the benefits of living in this very special home.
Powered by and filled with sunlight, this four-bedroomed earth-sheltered house has all a family could ask for - it's comfortable, cheap to run and has a garden any child would love to run wild in.
And with separate offices, it offers the perfect opportunity to work from home, enjoying sunfilled days in a property that is carefully orientated to catch the rays from dawn until dusk.
89 Gedney Road, 15 miles from King's Lynn, makes environmentally friendly living easy - from its foliage-insulated roof to its compost bins, it offers a complete, ready-made, green work-life ethic.
The house is literally dug into its surroundings. The entrance, which cannot be seen from the road, is next to a gravel parking area big enough for 10 vehicles. From here all that can be seen of the house and its gorgeous acre garden is a mound of greenery and hedging.
“This is one of just a handful of these type of homes in the UK,” said Julie Butcher, assistant to Jeremy Harrall, architect and inspiration behind the house. She added: “The few properties of this type which exist in our region are all designed by our company.” SEArch (Sustainable Ecological Architecture Limited) operates from the offices at Gedney Road.
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Mr Harrall is a determined and inspired man. Leaving school aged 16, he worked as a plasterer before training as an architect. He and wife Kay, who have been together since their teenage years, saw no reason to move from their home town as he pursued his dream to develop a lifestyle which tackles global warming head-on.
The property has two distinct buildings. There is a main house and a separate office, which can accommodate up to seven people.
The house is one room deep and single-storey. There is a TV room, large circular living room and an adjoining kitchen with a dining area. The kitchen is modern and practical with open cupboards and lots of stainless steel. There are two bathrooms, one of them an en-suite.
The bedrooms and bathrooms are off a long corridor with the living areas in a circular space at one end of the house.
A larder and utility room leads off the dining area. All rooms face south/southeast taking full advantage of morning light to illuminate and warm the bedrooms, reaching the living areas later in the day. Solar panels provide the power to heat the water. The building is made from exposed concrete because of its high thermal mass. Heat is conducted by the superstructure and because the house is built in the earth, that heat is retained for a long time and is emitted back into the rooms when the outside temperature drops.
Mr Harrall said: “I would challenge you to find more than a handful of households operating fossil-free.” Running bills for the house average just £8 a week.
The windows are designed to maintain air circulation and provide a fresh, well-ventilated interior.
“The combination of the natural daylight-gathering capacity and the gardens all help create a positive productive and harmonious environment.”
The living area windows look out on a mass of Mediterranean plants, making full use of the area's fertile soil. The space outside offers a wonderful environment, carefully thought-out for a growing family to work and play. There is a small, well-equipped gym in a shed and a charming child-sized tree house.
The Mediterranean feel is continued with a pétanque tunnel - perfect for the keen boules player. The gardens themselves are criss-crossed with paths. One section is devoted to vegetable growing alongside compost deposits, which include mulched and shredded paper from the offices. With a potting shed and small orchard, even the most reluctant of gardeners will surely be inspired.
When Mr Harrall started planning the project in 2002, the idea was to create a home and office using a development process that reduced the building's impact on its immediate surroundings.
“You can't help noticing you're underground every time you go in the front door or look out of the window,” he said.
The development won Gold in the sustainability category at the 2005 RICS East Midland regional awards and was awarded the British Green Champion International Green Apple Environmental Best Practice award from the Green Organisation.
The accolades certainly prove that whoever chooses to live in this unusual and wonderful home - it won't cost the earth.
t 89 Gedney Road is on the market at £495,000. It is 15 miles from King's Lynn. Call Richard Forbes-Robertson at Sowerbys, 01485 533666.