House designed to maximize the energy from the sun along with thermal mass

House designed to maximize the energy from the sun along with thermal mass

Architects: Nick Willson Architects
Location: Horsham, Pennsylvania, United States
Year: 2016
Area: 3.444 ft²/ 320 m²
Photo courtesy: Nick Gutteridge

“Conceptually, the house is designed as having a northern red brick wall spine which runs from the car port at the top of the site down to the terrace next to the copse towards the East of the site.

This wall is then punctuated with varying sized openings and seats internally. The brick is exposed internally in certain areas, giving the house a textural and warm feeling.

In plan the wall is two L shaped elements that mirror each other, the first forming the entrance and car port and the second the chimney and living space wall. The double height space forms the break between the two elements and opens the view to both sides.

The wall represents the brick walled gardens in traditional English gardens. To manipulate with the wall further we have proposed a varied palette of brick work, from flemish bond, to hit and miss and herringbone bond. The thickness of the wall allows for shadow, and texture along the length as well as high insulation levels.

As a foil to this more solid element, the southern facades of the house are more glazed and timber clad. The timber being a mixture of 50 mm sawn timber cladding and planed for doors and vents. A series of timber louvres shade the Western sun and provide privacy for the bedrooms.

A sloping roof sits above the timber, brick and glazed elements separated from the brick spine with high level glazing, which affords views of the mature trees to the North. The roof will have a copper soffit externally which will shimmer in the sun. A sedum finish to the top will help with bio-diversity.

The journey and narrative of the house and site starts at the new entrance with a sloping driveway down to the car port. Hedges and flowers shield the house for privacy and offer a level of surprise once in the house. The car port is open to reduce its mass and also houses a log store and cycle, bin store. Here the red brick spine wall wraps around the functions with the use of hit and miss brick work. The timber roof then floats over to the top continuing to the house as a covered entrance way. Vertical timber screens allow for planting to grow along the entrance path. At this point there is a change in level and a small opening through the brick screen into the Northern garden and meadow.

The entrance is expressed via a large metal clad front door. Once through the door, there is an entrance hall with brick flooring and coat cupboard, bench. A W.C and shower is off to the right. At this point the view is directed down the spine wall which terraces down with storage and gallery along the way and a single window seat framing a view of the large trees to the North.

The view at the end of the gallery is centred on the fireplace. The wet, utility, plant spaces are concealed behind the gallery wall, housing the boilers, solar thermal tanks and boot room.

At the bottom of the gallery the level changes subtly and the double height dining room opens up with a view to both sides of the site, this space will be flooded with natural light and a contrast to the lower darker entrance sequence.

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