Celebrating outstanding work for over 180 years the RIBA have recently announced that ARCHICAD users Hall + Bednarczyk Architects have won the Welsh Architecture Award 2019 and the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW) Project Architect of the Year Award 2019.
The awards and prizes are regarded internationally as a mark of excellence, recognising the best architecture, architects, research and students. In May they announced 2019’s RIBA Regional Awards winners at events around the country, including special awards for Project Architect of the Year, Client of the Year and Building of the Year, as well as excellence in sustainability and conservation
Hall + Bednarczyk RSAW Special Award Winners 2019
As well as scooping RSAW Awards, four projects were also specially recognised for their excellence in sustainability, exemplary approach to conservation, inspirational Project Architect or design quality at a small scale. Hall + Bednarczyk’s Silver How took the award for RSAW special award 2019 for inspirational Project Architect.
Named after a Cumbrian peak Silver How is a generous 5 bedroom home located within the Conservation Area of Llanhennock, a small village near Caerleon. The new dwelling replaces a dilapidated 1960’s house that had been built next to an Arts & Crafts stable. Purchased at auction by a family with young children, Silver How’s sensitive site is dominated by trees – notably several enormous Oaks with legal protection.
Hall + Bednarczyk were appointed as architects following the planning refusal of two previous schemes. In order to better respect the site it was considered essential to retain the early 20th Century stable while preserving the oak trees which are an important visual asset to the wider village.
The design repurposes the stable as a generous family kitchen, connected via a glazed link to a new stone-built wing of principal accommodation. The two blocks combine to form an L shaped plan that embraces a south-facing courtyard space. While the new addition is 20% larger than the previous dwelling, reflecting the client’s overall programme of requirements, it presents a modestly-scaled gable end to the street, where it reads alongside the subordinate stable building.
The 440m2 project was built over a fifteen month period for a budget of approximately £2,000 per square metre. The design employs a steel frame, allowing a flexible layout to benefit from large spans and slender structure. This frees up an architectural composition which marries the lightness and transparency of modern construction with the permanence and heft of locally quarried sandstone. The skill of local masons was crucial to achieving finely edged stone detailing which aims to bring a contemporary sensibility and overall unity to the design.
Framed by ancient oak trees and retaining the mossy roof of the carefully rebuilt stable, Silver How appears to be immediately established in Llanhennock’s conservation area.
Hall + Bednarczyk outline drivers, concept and performance
Hall + Bednarczyk Architects analysis revealed the environmental advantage in replacing the dilapidated 1960’s dwelling that occupied the site. The building’s room arrangement, fenestration design and overall standard of construction were too compromised to provide an effective basis for adaptation.
The replacement dwelling optimises the arrangement of space by connecting to the former stables (now a family kitchen) to form an L-shaped house plan. New living accommodation is located within a single linear block of 7.2m depth, orientated to maximise its southern orientation. This arrangement creates a sheltered courtyard that enjoys southerly exposure, while enjoying fine views to the East. The stable block establishes privacy for the courtyard from the public-facing West elevation.
Generous ground floor glazing benefits from the oversailing first floor which provides a natural system of shade for high angled intense summer sun, while enabling warming winter sun to penetrate into the ground floor plan. First floor glazing is reduced to avoid overheating, with shading louvres integrated into the design. A flexible system of opening windows, frequently at high level for daytime security facilitates effective and versatile through-ventilation.
The new building incorporates a timber-framed envelope that is highly insulated and fully encases the structural steel frame of the building. This approach minimises cold bridging and provides flexibility. The Arts & Crafts stable has a newly constructed roof insulated to current building regulations. Retrofitted wall and floor insulation greatly improve its thermal performance.
A ground source heat pump provides 4:1 performance gains for the energy requirements of the house’s hot water needs, which include underfloor heating throughout. The elevated site is located in Environment Agency flood zone 1 and is not at risk of flooding from rivers or sea.
Silver How is intended to provide a fundamentally sustainable and architecturally enduring addition to Llanhennock’s conservation area.
Operational Energy and Carbon Performance
The hybrid design of the wall section enables a sandwich construction that is full filled with insulation and minimises thermal bridging. The incorporation of the service zone behind the plasterboard ensures the integrity of the AVCL layer and ensures good airtightness.
The living spaces are naturally ventilated though opening windows and doors while ensuring a limited use of artificial low energy lighting. The whole house is underfloor heated by a ground source heat pump.
Whilst the installation of the ground source heat pump cost considerably more than a standard oil or LPG boiler system, the client was keen to reduce future reliance on delivered fuel sources. The site location for the heat loops is well placed to exploit solar exposure and heat the house in a sustainable method.
The as-built energy performance values ensure that renewable heat incentive over 7 years will cover the costs of installing the infrastructure for this method of heating.
Ecology and Biodiversity
Hall + Bednarczyk Architects scheme ensures that the site’s ecological value is maintained and strategies are adopted which protect and enhance habitats. The site has been the subject of a detailed ecological appraisal and bat mitigation measures are integrated into the design. Within the refurbished construction of the stable block are two separate dwelling locations for bats, at the eaves line and in crevice cavities behind the timber panelling.
The site is home to a number of protected oak trees and boundary hedgerows judged important due to their ecological value, age and diversity of plant species. Aboricultural advice was sought and approved method statements were produced. A no – dig drive was built to protect the integrity of the root systems and not disturb the quality of the ground conditions, whilst the hedgerows were protected during and unaffected by the works.
Health and Well Being / Internal Environment
The internal circulation of the dwelling adopts a fairly open plan form. The main entrance opens into a hall space with a ground floor cloakroom/WC provision. This space leads to the open plan kitchen, living and dining spaces with access to the garden courtyard beyond. This provides a well screened private outdoor living space for the family. The kitchen is located at the southern end of the house with views to both the public lane and the courtyard, while the lounge enjoys views over the garden and courtyard to the south and east.
The house incorporates many opportunities for family interaction and also the ability to be in separate areas of the ground floor but be visible to each other across the courtyard. Built in furniture allows for key spaces to be well organised and provide an impromptu location for conversation.
The stairs lead up to the first floor off the hallway to a landing that links the family bedrooms and bathrooms. All internal doors are a minimum 838mm width and the stair design conforms to Part K of the Building Regulations. The study located on the ground floor could in future provide for a downstairs bedroom, should the requirements of the household change.
There is guest accommodation located in the attic level of the main house. This has a generous naturally lit staircase and lobby between two guest suites, each afforded far reaching views to the countryside beyond. This allows all occupants a good deal of privacy with plenty of scope for interaction.
The house has excellent natural lighting with multiple windows on all elevations. The majority of the main rooms benefit from dual aspect daylight. The extensive glazing line of the living space is set well back from the building edge providing protection from overheating and solar exposure. Multiple opening windows ensure adequate through ventilation.