• "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

    - Benjamin Franklin

  • "Climate change is the biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be even bigger is our movement to stop it"

    - Bill McKibben

  • "If you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money"

    - Dr. Guy McPherson

  • "Most of us are aware that scientists say climate change is underway, but even if we accept it as true we act as if it had no implications"

    - Prof Naomi Oreskes

  • "The Earth was much warmer than today in the early Cenozoic period. It was so warm that there were no ice sheets on the planet and sea level was about 75 meters higher"

    - Prof James Hansen

  • "The human-made rate of change of atmospheric Co2 is ten thousand times larger than the natural rate that drove the climate changes of the past"

    - Prof James Hansen

  • "If we could catch one five thousandth part of the energy that the sun sprays onto this globe every day we would meet all of the energy requirements of humanity"

    - Sir David Attenborough, 2015

  • "I'd put money on the sun and solar energy, what a source of power. I hope we wont have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that"

    - Thomas Edison, 1931

  • "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek"

    - Barak Obama

  • "The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening and we are entering a period of consequences"

    - Al Gore, 2006

  • "We shall need a new way of thinking if humanity is to survive"

    - Albert Einstein, 1954

  • "Admit nothing into your home that is neither useful nor beautiful."

    - William Morris

  • "Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and eat and sleep with the earth."

    - Walt Whitman

  • "Water is good; it benefits all things and does not compete with them. It dwells in lowly places that all disdain. That is why it is so near to Tao"

    - Lao Tzu

  • "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art"

    - Frank Lloyd Wright

  • "The truth of a vessel lies not in that of which it is made; it lies in the space contained within"

    - Lao Tze

  • "Study Nature, Love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you."

    - Frank Lloyd Wright

  • "That which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of the night"

    - Kahlil Gibran

  • "Your house is your larger body. It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; yet it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?"

    - Kahlil Gibran

  • "Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls."

    - Kahlil Gibran

  • "Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow."

    - Kahlil Gibran

  • "Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vinyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments."

    - Kahlil Gibran

  • "After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these fully satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains?’ Nature remains"

    - Walt Whitman

  • "Everything in the world may be endured except continued prosperity."

    - Wolfgang von Goethe


Warwickshire, UK


About This Project

Three contemporary solar hemicycle residences in a rural area of Warwickshire.  An area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a Special Landscape Area. The site had been blighted by industrial development. Planning Permission was granted in Spring 2005.

The scheme was predicated upon the replacement of existing derelict industrial buildings on the site with three low-profile eco-friendly residences. The Planning Officers supported the scheme throughout the Planning process on this basis, though the scheme had to go to Appeal after locals called the houses ‘UFO’s’ and opposed the scheme. The scheme won at Appeal, but the sustainability basis of the designs was not mentioned in the Appeal Decision, and on this basis most of the sustainable elements of the scheme were dropped by the developer. Needless to say we dropped the developer subsequently.

The local people played an unwittingly major part in the scheme not being built to the sustainability standard originally proposed by the architect.

The concave solar hemicycle planform gave a large area of South-facing glass for the generation of heat through passive solar gain, whilst the roof, walls and floor were to be highly insulated. Finned timber glazing elements were to be used to provide solar shading.

The residences were quite large – the client’s brief called for five bedrooms (three doubles with ensuite facilities) together with two separate lounges. The total heated floor area is approx. 319 square metres.

There were three residences within a site of approx 1.6 Hectares in area. Much of the site is to be planted to match local low scrub and woodland, and maintained as a nature reserve for the residents under a strict ‘no colonisation’ Section 106 Agreement.

The heating system was planned to utilise the heat created by solar gain and other heat sources within the house to heat water via an air-source heat pump located in the loft over the carport. All of the heat produced in the house including that produced by solar gain, cooking, lighting, etc. to rise via gravity to second floor ceiling level where it is to be extracted to feed the heat pump. The ground floor ceiling was to taper upwards towards floor slots adjoining the South window/wall to encourage warm air to move as it rose. The water heated by the heat pump would be contained in super-insulated tanks in the carport loft and utilised for underfloor heating and domestic hot water. Surplus warmed air would be exhausted via ridge vents on warm/hot summer days.

An option available to residents – shown on the model and perspective views here – is for two tracking solar arrays located at the southern gables of the house. These solar arrays were to be used to help power the heat pump or simply export electricity back to the grid.

All masonry elements and floors were to be heavy construction to give the residences medium to high thermal capacity.

For Planning purposes the residences were cut into the sloping ground by approx. 1.5 metres. This created a sunken garden immediately to the South of each house, bounded by a low wall which defined and contained the inner gardens. The site area outside each residence’s circular bounding wall was to be a nature reserve as described elsewhere.

Materials for the residences were to be reclaimed brick, hand-made red plain clay tiles and FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) sourced timber. As many local materials were to be employed as possible and the concrete slabs and roadway foundations previously on site are to be broken up for hardcore in order to reduce/eliminate the export of spoil from the site.

The three houses were built circa 2007, but not under the direction of Solarity.