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40 PROJECT REPORT: SELFBUILD & CUSTOM BUILD PROJECTS


“Should the houses in the north of Scotland be the same as those in the south of England? I don’t think they should”


is, according to Deveci, recycled and more breathable compared to other alternatives. “It’s a good example of how architects can build using sustainable and future recyclable materials as well as addressing circularity.” The architect says: “The project is ageing


PROJECT FACTFILE


• Integra House was a research project funded by the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC)


• Truss developed and supplied by Pasquill


• Structure erected by Sylvan Stuart


nicely, taking a greyish colour which fits with the existing roofs and structures in that part of the world.” Deveci continues, discussing how the material benefits the environmental and wellbeing qualities of the spaces within: “considering health, using healthy materials is important since our buildings are becoming more and more air-tight.” He also notes that “low energy housing solutions, in particular the affordable housing sector, often have their ventilation switched off, which can lead to long term health problems.” Given all these features, the house almost reaches Passivhaus standards – “in terms of insulation, it’s better than Passivhaus,” says Deveci. The only aspect that didn’t meet Passivhaus was airtightness, which was partly deliberate for the research aspect; it is rare for affordable housing to incorporate the mechanical ventilation systems that would be required to offset extreme airtightness, due to their cost (minimum £4K, according to Deveci).


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Instead, the architect designed a bespoke ventilation system which extracts the air from the living room – heated by the woodburning stove – and redistributes it through diffusion into the bedrooms in the north of the plan, or vice-versa. When quizzed on what could’ve been added to further improve the thermal performance of the house, Deveci notes that he would’ve liked to use a concrete foundation to make use of ground-stored heat, however, the environmental and budgetary constraints meant that this wasn’t feasible. Aside from the ecological sustainability benefits that Integra House provides to the client, for Deveci, the real sustainability is economic: “Affordability is so often only seen in terms of capital costs, and not running costs,” explains Deveci. Integra House incorporates both of these, achieved by using a simple, yet elegant solution. “I think what I demonstrated is that custom and self-build doesn’t need to be one-off or expensive. They can be very cost effective and meet the construction standards. There’s no need to make sacrifices. If it’s not affordable it’s not repeatable!” In the midst of a housing crisis, a strong case can be made for Integra House as more than a singular example of a passing fad for affordable eco-housing in rural areas. The truss-based system makes it a cool contender among the many solutions being proposed in efforts to ramp up housing production and meet both customer demand and Government targets. While Deveci insists “it’s not just a numbers game,” the house’s simplicity makes it easy to build, easy to maintain – maintenance need not be carried out by specialist contractors, making it especially apt for rural and remote areas and the self build market – and easily customisable, since a wide array of materials can be applied to it to the preference of the client or user. Also, often overlooked in debates over housing in the United Kingdom is the cultural component – with architectural language being a reflection of cultures, morphing over time and space, and over and within borders. “Should the houses in the north of Scotland be the same as those in the south of England?” asks Deveci rhetorically, before answering: “I don’t think they should.” It makes sense, then, to seriously consider solutions that can be easily tailored to local character and identity. When the solution can be constructed with such ease, giving access to self-builders and smaller housebuilders, an even more enticing answer to the challenges materialises. 


ADF JUNE 2019


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