“Cannock Mill is all about building a sustainable community,” says Anne Thorne, founder and architect at Anne Thorne Architects (ATA). “We wanted to create natural, energy efficient and, most importantly, healthy homes.”
Cannock Mill is a co-housing scheme in Essex comprising 23 homes; six flats and 17 houses. Every home within the project is built to Passive House standards.
A sustainable build
“Sustainability is core to our ethos at ATA,” says Anne. “We put a lot of work into sourcing breathable materials for the buildings’ fabric to ensure the homes built were healthy for both their occupants and the environment.
“As the housing is designed to be affordable, it was also important the homes were budget-friendly for occupants to run, so materials with a high energy efficiency were a must.
“Ultimately, we wanted to create a community of homes which looked beautiful and performed well.”
Choosing the right materials
Initial work began on site at Cannock Mill in Spring 2017 and the project is due for completion in October 2019.
Anne went on to explain: “To achieve a healthy build, we chose timber frame for the walls of the homes with Lime Green’s external Warmshell insulation system over the timber frame studs. This system consists of woodfibre board insulation rendered with Prepbond WP and Finish WP.
We chose the Warmshell system as it not only promotes breathability but also delivers excellent heat control. This has resulted in extremely low, Passive House compliant, U-Values for each of the buildings, making the homes very economic to run.
The average fuel bill for the properties is estimated to cost the equivalent of a cup of coffee per fortnight.
We also chose to render the homes externally with Lime Green’s coloured renders as we’d used these products previously on a school in Romford and the final result looked great.
We involved the future occupants in the design from a very early stage through various workshop sessions. The colours of the renders: Ironstone, Ochre, Corfton and Terracotta, were decided by them.
The natural colouring of the lime renders makes them really easy to maintain over time while retaining the breathable structure of the buildings.”
The healthy homes
“We agreed very early on in the project that the homes should be built to Passive House standards,” says Phil McGeevor, a future resident at Cannock Mill. “We’d visited Passive Houses before and loved the sense of fresh air without the presence of a draught, there was a nice even temperature throughout. This was something we wanted to achieve in the new homes at Cannock Mill.
“It was very important to us that all of the materials used were sustainable and low in toxicity, creating a natural and healthy environment for people to live and visit.
“Price is always a factor in decisions like this and although it did cost a little bit more to build to Passive House standards vs current building regulations initially, the resulting low fuel bills and healthy environment will, in the longer-term, more than make up for this additional cost.
Leaving the last word with Anne, she says: “I’d definitely recommend Lime Green’s products to any architect looking to deliver a healthy, beautiful and longstanding project.”