Situated in the midst of the Brecon Beacons, South Wales, this new build house was designed as an exemplar model of sustainable domestic architecture. It combines a passive solar design strategy, locally sourced materials and a vernacular form.
The site lies within a conservation area and Green Field site on the border of the Brecon Beacons National Park. This sensitive context called for a skilful approach in satisfying the local planning officer, whilst pushing a bold and sustainable architecture that could be held up as a notable future precedent.
A sustainable approach was a driving ambition for the project. Another driver was the iconic image of a vernacular extrusion of a long-house without eaves. Passive solar principles have determined the south elevation treatment, framing views over Pen Y Fan while recycled Welsh slates wrap over the roof and down the exposed north wall, providing protection against the harsh weather. An annual carbon emission of 5.8Kg was calculated for the running of the house.
The larch cladding for the ‘solar facades’ was felled from the client’s land 2 miles away. 8 larch trees have been planted locally to replace the cladding after 25 years, while the removed cladding will be burnt to heat the house.
The interior of Ty Pren has also been commended for the clear and logical plan structured by a linear spine wall along the northern edge. This serves to create a buffer to the north of the building and houses all services, utilities and storage, together with shower rooms, the stair and pantry, leaving the southern spaces clear and unobstructed.
Interior spaces achieve high levels of natural daylighting due to the narrow depth of plan and large area of south-facing glazing. This approach promotes solar heat gains, whilstthe deep recessed reveals of the windows allow passive shading in summer.A wide number of organisations were involved in the project, which required careful management and diplomacy. These included the Penpont estate, the local conservation officer, the local planning officer, an arboreal cultural surveyor and environmental consultant. On top of this were the structural engineers and land surveyors. During the construction further management of the main contractor was undertaken with regular site visits.
Ty Pren was a shortlisted finalist for the Grand Design’s Eco-Homes of the Year awards, 2009. It was also published in the Architect’s Journal technical feature in September 2010 along with being published in several books.