The Life Changing Home accommodates for change, much like its Victorian or Georgian
predecessors continue to do, by adapting to different generations of users. Flexibility is
paramount in the Life Changing Home and adapting to change comes in many forms-
expanding, dividing, separating, extending, enclosing.
The Life Changing Home is formed from two houses, large and small, with a courtyard
at its heart, unifying them. This combination allows the home to perform roles above
and beyond its familiar domestic life. The small house works as an annex that can be
appropriated as a home office, workspace, utility, nursery or playroom or simply as an
extension of the normal home.
In a critical reconsideration of urban development versus country living, future
sustainability forces us to reassess the qualities and viability of both forms of living in
equal measure. The Life Changing Home embraces natural site features such as
hedgerows that provide a visual amenity and space for play and recreation for all
The larger house faces a large shared open space formed from existing landscape
features or new elements introduced. Visual amenity and access to wildlife habitats are
made to promote and increase biodiversity. Open spaces are overlooked and provide
play spaces for children and benches for all. Each house forms a permeable boundary
with its surroundings with a sheltered terrace and garden extending into the park
The ground floor is tall and generous, forming a clear link between meadow and mews,
with a central courtyard open to the sky. Transparency and depth afford good levels of
visibility beyond, both to the court, mews and green spaces beyond.
The smaller house opens on to a narrower mews setting formed in clusters and
informal in scale. The mews provides a quiet and intimate shared space for both
pedestrians and vehicles, leaving the meadow spaces uninterrupted and car-free.
Common to the shared, open landscape features, smaller scale sheltered courtyard
spaces are also green and sensitive to their locality. Rainwater from the roofs is
harvested for toilet flushing, clothes washing, garden watering and car washing- saving
over 50% demand from the mains water supply. Reduced run-off from the site is
achieved using a sedum blanket green roof to the annex, visible from the upper floors of
the main house. Hard landscaping is limited for cars, cycles and hybrid vehicles, and is
both integrated and obscured with planting. Pavements and pathways will be permeable
to minimize run-off and flood risk.
Natural ventilation is achieved with a stack effect using the stair void via low-level
intakes and rooftop chimneys. The intake is acoustically-attenuated in order to minimize
the impact of outside noise, yet allow a free flow of air throughout the interior.
Thick insulated walls reduce energy consumption by minimizing heat loss in winter and
deep reveals with adjustable louvers provide solar shading and control during the
summer months. In addition the wall linings are impregnated with a phase change
material. This allows the lightweight construction to compensate for the lack of thermal
mass. A wax impregnated plasterboard acts as a thermal store, cooling in the heat of
summer months, and releasing heat energy stored if the temperature drops below a
comfortable level in winter, thus
providing a dampening effect on the room's
temperature during the day and night.
The aim of the Life Changing Home is to reduce CO2 emissions at source and also to
offset unavoidable emissions. Although without a fixed site, it is the intention that the
Life Changing Home would respond not only to the development’s footprint but also to
maximize solar energy gains and minimize the requirement of additional heating.
Solar thermal panels on individual units will provide the primary hot water source.
Depending on the scale of development this will be topped up either locally by a low
NOx boiler or alternatively by a central plant in the form of a biomass fired CHP.
Timber has the lowest consumption of any building material across its lifecycle. For this
reason each unit will be pre-formed of a series of cross-laminated timber panels that
come from a sustainable source. This form of construction allows for high speed and
high performance in terms of air tightness.
The panel is compatible with most cladding options. Regionally conversant materials,
either shingles, clay tiles, or slates will be locally sourced to minimize embodied energy
and respond to the situated context.