The Natural House

Kingerlee have recently completed The Natural House built on the Innovation Park at the Building Research Establishment in Watford. A project developed by the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, demonstrating that the most effective route to low-energy, low-carbon homes is through a robust thermal and airtight envelope, designed for longevity and with traditional appeal.

The emphasis of the house was to utilise natural materials of low-impact provenance that display traditional design and construction methods in providing a family semi-detached house, small two storey flat and a single storey maisonette.

The materials utilised in the building structure such as aerated clay blocks, lime based plasters and renders reduce the risk of VOCs. The plastic membranes were replaced in favour of vapour-open insulating systems. The house avoids the risk of damp and mould build-up within the building fabric, thus reducing the risk of asthma and respiratory problems for building occupiers. The air quality is maintained by a maintenance free passive ventilation system.

The principal construction system, NBT ThermoPlan uses an extruded aerated clay block which entraps air in pockets providing high levels of insulation within a single skin structure. The aerated clay blocks were externally clad in a Baumit render and internally with lime plaster. This composition achieves a U-value of 0.2.

The clay block construction is supported by other natural materials including NBT Pavatex woodfibre, Thermafleece sheepswool insulation and wooden floor and roof members which combine to provide the dual pitched roof with a U-value of 0.11. This consequently greatly reduces solar gain during summer months allowing comfortable living space within the roof area.

The Natural House emphasises attractive flexible urban living for a low-carbon future.

Photo shows Kingerlee's Joint Managing Director Tony Woodward handing the new building keys to James Hulme, Director of Research for the foundation.

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