The Arbour is a unique “carbon negative” mews of 9 residential homes located in Walthamstow, London. This means over the course of the year it will use less energy than it generates on site.
We worked alongside developers GS8 and Studio Anyo architects to create homes powered by large solar arrays, heat pumps, intelligent energy management systems and dedicated battery sets to meet the dual challenge of climate change and the cost of energy crisis.
We also implemented wastewater with heat recovery and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery to provide energy savings and high indoor air quality. The roofs were designed specifically to allow for approximately 60% more photovoltaic (PV) solar panels per home than a traditional pitched roof design, maximising the amount of energy generation on-site.
These features enabled the developer to offer the homes with zero bills guaranteed.
But it doesn’t stop there as the circular economy and low-embodied carbon design was adopted from the outset. The homes are made from timber frames with scrap metal welded into fixings and much of the insulation is made of wood fibres. The bricks and blocks from the small warehouse buildings on the site were repurposed as foundations for the new homes while the steel beams were used in the roof structure. The scheme also uses reclaimed cobbles in the private courtyard gardens.
The reuse was not only cost-effective but there was no need for any skips on site as almost nothing was thrown away. The buildings were designed using standard sized timber beams and steels, which meant there was not need for cutting and waste.
The earth excavated to create the foundations was reused, mixed with straw and pressed into moulds to create more than 30,000 pressed earth blocks. These were used to build the walls in between the houses and provide low embodied energy “thermal mass” to help the homes stay cool in peak summer. During the summer heatwave the showhouse was pleasantly cool while the thermometer outside rose to 35 ° C.
Internally the scheme has raw-finished birch plywood walls, lime screed floors and high ceilings. The team worked with fashionable homewares brand Rockett St George using furniture made from recycled coffee grounds and bathroom fittings made from recycled yoghurt pots.
One of the key challenges was the visual integration with the exposed timber meaning that services had to be designed with great attention to detail, within our 3D models, carefully aligned with the aesthetics of the project.
The scheme also aims to promote community and has and outdoor kitchen area for social gatherings as well as a communal foraging garden.
Completed in 2022, the scheme is a beautiful example of what can be achieved in terms of carbon neutrality, eliminating energy bills, low-embodied carbon construction, health & wellbeing and aesthetics in the context of a commercially led project.