Gap House wins Manser Medal 2009

October 28, 2009

The house has won the RIBA Manser Medal for best housing project designed by an architect in the UK, announced at the Stirling Prize dinner on 17.10.09.

Michael Manser, former RIBA president said of the scheme “Once again the Manser Medal has been won by an intelligent, simple, practical, high-quality design that makes most of the housebuilding industry look inadequate.”

Valerie King of sponsors the Rooflight Company said:“Overall the most impressive aspect of the design is its level of skill, imagination and practicality in creating a series of apparently generous spaces, despite all the constraints of overlooking, conservation policies and initially hostile residents association.  The result is a comfortable home in a great piece of architecture.”

Architects Journal Article


No stairway

April 18, 2008

The stair running up the centre of the house is made from a sustainably sourced 19mm Larch composite board. It has a central void to allow light down from the roof light to each of the floors into the centre of the plan.  It’s also held off the walls with stainless steel pins and thus allows more light down around the edges and architecturally separates the stair from the walls making feel more like a piece of sculpture than a stair.  The boards were cut on a C&C machine that cut out each of the component parts to within 0.1mm and then assembled as a kit of parts on site. It was constructed by Tin Tab, based in West Sussex –  The handrail is made by cutting a simple groove in the outer surface that guides the hand as you walk up or down.  We therefore avoided the need for a handrail on the outside/wall edge.   I realised I hadn’t yet posted any pictures of it finished, so here we go.

Rain, rain, rain

March 21, 2008

It might not be great weather for the bank holiday but there’s a silver lining from where I sit.  It’s filling up the rain water harvesting tank. Now it’s all up and running and working as it should we are happily flushing the toilets with rainwater.   In the event of a drought (you never know) or power cut the tank reverts to being fed by the mains water.The tank, pump and controls were supplied by Envireau (   

Building Design Article

March 21, 2008

Here’s a link to a recent article about the house by Tony McIntyre for Building Design magazine.Enjoy. 

Ecobuild 2008

February 29, 2008

Yesterday I braved the eco warrior hoards and went down to Ecobuild at Earls Court (  Blimey what a scrum.  Clearly there’s something in the water as it seems everyone is either creating something to sell as Eco or else busily looking around for the next, new Low Carbon widget.  I particularly loved the air conditioning manufacturers being there. Next year you’ll be able to win a hybrid 4×4 I expect.  I guess it’s encouraging that so many companies feel that there’s money in being green but it did seem a bit desperate.  There was still a crazy amount of paper being given away that even the recycling bins at the side would never cope with.  I would like to know the full Carbon Footprint of Ecobuild, including making and bringing in all the stands, food, visitors etc. Has anyone out there calculated it?  Somehow I doubt it. Anyway what impressed?1. The Sustainable Building Association (AECB), ( launched their CarbonLite Programme – ‘a crash course in low energy buildings for the design and construction industry’, which usefully draws on experience in Europe and North America, as well as the UK, to provide a scheme that concentrates on simple design principles to achieve genuinely low energy buildings:  On a more domestic level the shower tray heat exchanger that provides heat recovery from the waste heat of a shower to prewarm water from the incoming main and reduce, it claims, by 50-70% the energy used by showering.  Apparently installed in 20% of all dutch housing and not yet available directly within the UK it is a simple yet effective way of reducing energy use. How much?  About £300 it was claimed, that pays itself back in 3-5 years depending, I guess, on the cleanliness or otherwise of the users.  They are looking for a UK distributor so if you know of anyone please get in touch (

Being your own guinea pig

February 5, 2008

So it’s not all perfect after all.  The rainwater harvesting system is not working despite much tinkering and hours on the phone to technical help.  After trying various settings and cleaning out the tank and pipe work the inescapable conclusion is that the pump is broken.  Thankfully it’s under warranty and the new one has just arrived.  I’ll let you know if it works once it’s in.  Just to be clear, we do still have the ability to flush the toilets since the default setting is that the system is fed direct from the mains (a good thing too with potty training going on).  So we are flushing our toilets with drinking water for now, just like everyone else.

It’s on the tele

January 31, 2008

The house was featured on Grand Designs Trade Secrets on Wednesday 23.01.08 at 22:00, explaining a little about the nature of building on such a constrained site but nothing about the ecological aspects of the design!   Two themes are clearly one too many for a tv show.  Ah well.