I was talking to Ben Derbyshire of HTA about materials for house design, and he reckons brick will disappear pretty quickly. It won’t be used on new construction, and existing brick buildings will be ‘wrapped in overcoats of insulation and rendeer.’ The reason? Derbyshire said ‘You can’t build a zero-carbon house using brick.’ Then he thought for a minute, and added ‘Mind you Ralph Erskine hit me when I said that.’ Luckily, by the time the two were working together, on the Millennium Village at Greenwich, the hero of the Byker wall was past his first youth, so Derbyshire emerged unscathed. Erskine had the look of a man who could have packed a mean punch when he was younger.
Where do you put thermal mass in housing? The solutions that work in offices, such as exposed ceiling slabs, are too costly for houses, where frequently upper floors will be timber.
At Upton Site C, near Northampton, HTA Architects put the thermal mass in the floor of the double-height spaces. This is where the winter solar radiation would fall, and they laid stone tiles on top of concrete.
There is an irony that this is usually a Mediterranean approach for summer cooling rather than winter heating, and one does wonder whether residents will be tempted to put down rugs to make it ‘cosier’.
But apparently the houses are sold with an info pack saying that it is vital not to cover up the floors – and the inclusion of underfloor heating may help.
Anyway, it’s a great looking scheme.