ECOLOGICAL ARCHITECTURE

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Building Materials

The choice of building materials is central to our design approach. We aim to work, as far as possible, with local, renewable and natural materials, such as timber, stone, lime, clay, sheep's wool, straw and hempcrete, and also reclaimed and recycled materials.


When choosing materials we consider:

  • Energy required during manufacture or processing

  • Energy required during transport to the building site.

  • Planetary resources

  • Robustness and fitness for purpose

  • Maintenance Issues

Our experience with Hempcrete or Hemp/Lime (as it could be more correctly described) over a number of projects has led us to become leading practitioners with the material and construction methods in Scotland.

 

Straw Bale House

A client led self-build project using straw bales as the external wall material and insulation, with an internal Douglas Fir timber frame. External and internal lime render, wood-burning stove and solar hot water. Please take a look at their blog for a week by week account of Willie and Wendy's build. This project won the 2012 Murray Armor Self Builder of the Year award. The National Self Build Association (NaSBA) gives the annual award for Britain's most determined self builder. Willy and Wendy's home stood out because it used mostly locally sourced, natural and recycled materials. For more information have a look here.

 

Hempcrete House

The desire for the house to sit harmoniously in its location led to the choice of Hempcrete as a construction material. Echoing the thick walls of its neighbour, a straw bale house, the ground floor is also raised above the ground to take full advantage of the views south to Loch Tay.


The house contains a double height sitting area with a mezzanine leading to attic bedrooms above. The kitchen and dining area is located beneath the mezzanine, which allows easy access to the external timber deck for 'al fresco' eating. The entrance hall which gives access to the main living area, further bedrooms and a family bathroom, is also a double height with a rooflight, leading to an impression of space.


Hempcrete offered the benefit of a very high standard of wall insulation which could be installed as a single layer, with high levels of air-tightness. It also absorbs carbon dioxode from the atmosphere during the drying process. The high standard of insulation was continued throughout the 'envelope' of the house with wood fibre batts in the roof and ground floor. The house is so well insulated and air tight that it can be heated by a single wood burning stove.

 
In the snow