A summary of the minutes taken at the meeting on 6th January 2014.

Initially, we were given a presentation by Jonathan Hines (Architype & Archihaus, Hereford & London). He covered the following points: Housing & education, Passive House and Life-enhancing design. The visuals included examples of good design, including 7-8 year old primary school, with excellent light, ventilation etc. and a recent Passive House school. His talk showed that it does not cost more if everything is built into the design in the first place.


A relevant example of this was Spring Hill (Stroud): a co-housing, resident led development of 35 units. High density, car parking concentrated in 1 or 2 places and including a community house with kitchen etc. Gardens open, community feel. This project was self-funded, timber construction & clad. When properties are sold, the buyer also buys into the management company. It is a pedestrians only development.


The second example was Archihaus: a new company set up to develop under Passivhaus standards. Its emphasis is quality & sustainability in housing, in contrast to standard developers of poor quality and uninspiring. They plan to develop at a similar price to standard developments.  Their Strategy – flexible, spacious, high quality designed to passive house standards- *Re-think the site with a sense of space *Re-think construction – finished panels built in a factory.


The third and final example was The Kingstone (Herefordshire) – 20 acre site with 150 houses (much less than standard developer would put in this sized field) They have a scattered village concept, within the village. The orientation of all houses within 15 degrees of south and engaged with community – consultation, workshops etc. Cycle paths, allotments, winding lanes, sustainable rain water drainage within the site, native hedgerows and about 6 acres of green space within the site - Outdoor space including orchards (currently looking at options for how to manage outdoor spaces).


Design of houses:

Wide to south, less deep front to back

Better design for contemporary living + rooms facing south

Good daylight

Form of house very simple

Factory manufacture

Standardisation of panels

Herefordshire vernacular for finishes, simple materials in ordered plan


Kingstone site specifications:


14 live work units + 3 commercial units + co-housing scheme within a corner of the site

S106 properties are all scattered within the site (35%)


·         Passivehaus

·         Energy standard

·         Guaranteed quality of construction

·         Comfort of living

·         15KWH /m2 of building /year

·         u value standards

·         Air tightness standard 0.6 air changes per hour

·         Thermal bridging eliminated

·         Mechanical Ventilation system keeps in 90% of heat

·         Model design processed through passive house modelling tool

·         Construction monitored & assessed by certifier

·         Land purchased at lower price than standard developer purchase price.

·         Target build cost £1250/ m2 overall.

·         Heating – gas backup on a solar water system

·         Sizes – 3 bed 82-90 m2 internal (sale approx. £170-180K)

·         Construction system is currently being investigated:

·         2 panel, or complete wrap insulation

·         I-beams (particularly for schools)

·         Warmcell insulation

·         Panel – 300-350mm

·         u- values 0.15

·         Windows u-values 0.8 including frames

·         very small gas boiler requirement

·         Primary energy 120 KWH/ m2 of building per year


Three questions to consider on the Presteigne development:


·         What are priorities?

·         Persuade developer (eg MWH) to accept these priorities

·         Re-think the following:

Shape of site

Bit more land

Group parking

Shared surfaces


Village green in centre


Get away from using a ‘standard response’ to a development.

Transit van sized vehicle can get to all of site – eg ambulances. Removal vans –

everything gets trolleyed.

Turning head at corner rather than at end

Get planners on board with a more creative scheme.



The second presentation was given by Simon Tucker (Architectural research, ecological buildings, formerly at CAT, trained as Passivhaus designer/ assessor, Cardiff University)


His advice was that projects tend to get best results from people who just ask questions – into planning process. Sustainable planning needs to address the following:


·         Ecology

·         Materials

·         Carbon & Energy

·         Social aspects

·         Economics

·         Site layout:

·         Context Public/private/shared/communal space

·         Amenity/ mixed use

·         Energy

·         Food/ gardens

·         Vehicles (relationship of inhabitants to cars, parking, private/public spaces)

  Design guidelines:

 CABE (official guidelines)

·         Possible management / ownership models

·         Design Patterns (eg Christopher Alexander)

·         What is being added to the town?

·         Energy & Carbon:

Orientation/ solar gains

Building geometry & type

Thermal insulation & air tightness

Building systems & energy


Meeting 6th January: Exemplar affordable housing for Presteigne? Why Not?

In autumn 2013 we learned that the Mid Wales Housing Association, with funding from the Welsh Government, was proposing to build 28 affordable homes on the edge of our home town of Presteigne.   We were keen that the residents of Presteigne would properly benefit from the build and talked with the Presteigne and Norton Town Council, Mid Wales Housing and others about working together for a build that aimed for exemplar affordable sustainable housing and focused on:

1.     Energy Performance: Super insulation, ventilation, minimal cold bridging, precision construction and rigorous testing

2.     Good Foundations:  Solar orientation of buildings for passive heating and solar thermal panels; including plumbing suitable for solar thermal.

3.     Local resourcing and fabrication of materials:  Important for Presteigne/Radnorshire in terms of economy and growth and jobs.  Important for Wales as Exemplar Best Value Sustainable Construction solutions.

Following a very positive response from the Town Council and from Aidan Ackerman of Mid Wales Housing, who visited the New Welsh House Project’s new build in November, we will be holding a meeting at The Workhouse, Presteigne on Monday, 6th January 2014, starting at 10.00am.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and plan a clear set of proposals for exemplar affordable sustainable housing at the Knighton Road, Presteigne site in preparation for our next meeting with Mid Wales Housing.

Briefings will be run by Jonathan Hines of Archihaus and Dr. Simon Tucker of Cardiff University (previously Head of Environmental Architecture at the Centre for Alternative Technology)

A discussion will follow and a report will be produced from the proceedings.

Thank You


Happy New Year from New Welsh House!

Well to summarise 2013- we were a bit too busy to write! However, as the on-site project winds down to the finishing touches and new projects begin to blossom we will endeavour to share a bit more about where we are and where we hope to go with the New Welsh House.

The Eco House weekend in October attracted a lot of people who were interested to see how to build with our panels.  We opened the two, small live/work units being built next to the Workhouse Gallery for people to see the 'work in progress'.  Most people showed great enthusiasm, actually 'got it' and asked question after question.  The most asked question was 'how much does it cost' and 'where can we get one'.  At that time we could only say we are waiting to see, but hope that by the first quarter of 2014, many of the questions about costs will be answered and we will publish a spreadsheet breaking down each of the main costs into per square meter horizontal and vertical.  Detail of window fitted into cladding.The spreadsheet will cover the costs of foundations, insulated heated concrete floor, D.P.C., D.P.M fixing, cost of kit of panels for walls, floors, ceiling/roof (including the cost of erection and crane hire), windows and doors, membranes, battens- and even stainless steel nails!  We did not factor in the cost of the nails in stainless and got a shock at the price- but they do look very smart with the Douglas fir and Larch cladding. 

Detail of corner join with wriggly tin.Some of the build costs are individual: we built a cut roof over our insulated panels, but it could have been made from factory built trusses.  We have used 3 inch galvanised steel wriggly tin on the roofs and two walls, primarily to continue the design aesthetic of the existing Workhouse Gallery.  This look may not be to everyone's taste; but it is very economical, quick and will last 25 years before it needs painting.  One of our favourite roof options continues to be the Colourcoat clip, raised seem roof made by Tata- it is hard to beat, especially the colours and the very clever little fixing to attach rails for P.V. and solar thermal panels.

We are now working on internal partitions, air tight membranes', battening for services, electrics, water and, finally, dry-lining.  We will keep you posted on our progress.

If you are in Presteigne in the near future, you could pop in to Broad Axe Estate to see the live/work studio that John Copsey has designed and built using and interesting method of deconstructed panels with the ladder frame, walls and floors; which have been put up and then covered with T&G Spruce cladding.  John is extensively photographing the work and we hope both his photographs and costings will be made available to others.


Building Project 2013

You may have noticed our blog has gone very quiet lately, but whilst we have not been writing or sharing much, we have been very busy with our build.  In the last few months we have gone from laying foundations, to what can only be described as two, very smart looking (Yes, we are a bit prejudiced!) buildings, which are well on their way to completion.  In a few weeks time we will be participating in the Open Eco Homes weekend from the 12th - 13th October, so if you would like a chance to see a panel build in progress, this is your chance!


HOME . FOOD . FIRE. by Rachel Francis

”Home is where one starts from” T.S. Eliot

An “affordable” home would be one where local people can afford to rent or buy based on local wages; Heating, electricity and water bills are manageable; And people build with consideration for the future.

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