Design for Manufacture / Oxley Woods
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and George Wimpey’s approach to the design of the Oxley Woods houses unifies house components that are small and complex in nature into a highly standardised and thoroughly tested unit. The serviced spaces – including bathrooms, kitchens and heating/lighting centres – are standardised across the range of proposed house types and, along with the façades and specially-designed ‘EcoHats’, are manufactured off-site and transported to the site for assembly.
Through the use of different types of cladding, the houses are produced in a number of variants. This allows them to adjust to the local vernacular by appropriating colours and textures which are typical of the surrounding area. The flexibility of cladding, living space, roof orientation and fenestration enable the houses to be located on any site, while at the same time being site-specific.
The EcoHat is an innovative element of the design which serves to optimise the environmental credentials of the Oxley Woods houses. Essentially a chimney, the EcoHat is situated on top of the services spine and reuses hot air circulating through the stack – complemented by solar energy – to optimise energy consumption and provide passive solar water heating.
A variety of colours, scale and grain has been specified for the different façade options for the house, chosen according to suit – or contrast with – the local building vernacular.
The volume of the house is adaptable both in terms of orientation, regional variation of scale, proportion and material and is conceived for life-long living, with an inherent flexibility both in the short and long term. Internal layouts are free-span – ie without structural pillars and walls, maximising flexibility. To further enhance the range of choice, RRP envisages a range of add-on elements to give distinct identity. These elements include canopies, balconies, planted walls and study rooms.
Modern Methods of Construction allow components to be manufactured off-site, either as modules or ‘flat-pack’ for ease of transportation. Not only does this decrease construction times, it also reduces waste and energy used in the transportation of materials to site. Even without the distinctive EcoHat, the Oxley Woods houses represent a reduction of approximately 27 per cent in carbon dioxide emissions, compared with a conventional new-build house of similar size. This reduction rises to almost 40 per cent with the inclusion of the EcoHat, 50 per cent when the EcoHat is attached to a hot water system, and more than 70 per cent if the EcoHat utilises geothermal energy sources through a local bore hole.
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