GRAND DESIGNS_
OUR STORY

Studio Fuse co-founders Daniel Rowland, an architectural designer and Nina Rowland, an interior designer were filmed for Channel 4's Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud. Their sustainable, contemporary new build house in West Sussex, floats over a natural swimming pond, with a beautifully landscaped garden where nature thrives. Below is a snapshot into the build, written by Daniel Rowland

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THE PLOT_

The site was pretty baron. The very large garden use to be an old paddock so there was very little vegetation other than mown grass and a single line of perimeter Poplar Trees. There was also a whopper of pond, a very smelly and stagnant pond. The plot had been on the market for years/months but but the pond seemed to be the stumbling block for the site.

  

We instantly loved the site.. it was 1.5 acres so lots of space for the kids and us to play around with, had perfect orientation, sat in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and was only 500 meters away from the sea.

 

The site was assessed and deemed to be of "low ecological value"

THE POND_

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THE PLOT_

The pond held water during the winter months but dried up during the summer, the water was stagnant, i.e. starved of oxygen and so not great for wildlife.

At the end of a summer we dug out over 6 foot of sludge from the bottom of the pond.  

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THE SLAB & SETTING OUT_

Getting the setting out of the slab bang on was/is critical when using SIP's or any other pre-fabricated structure. If you get the slab just a centimetre  or two wrong you'll be fighting against it from the off.

 

Getting points that accurate in what was a large bare garden is not that easy when they are 30 meters apart. I used a series or arches and intersecting points to mark out the exact position of the slab.... and yes it worked.

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GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMP & SLINKIES_

This is a seriously disruptive thing to do in your back garden, we had to dig up most of the site to get hundreds and hundreds of meters of coiled pipe down 1.2 meters into the trenches.

 

Putting in a horizontal GSHP into your back garden is not for the faint hearted but it is a fantastic renewable energy source. 

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POND STRUCTURE_

We had to use a concrete structure for the swimming zone of the Natural Swimming Pond, among other reasons it was largely to mitigate the pond liner "hippoing". Ground water pressure can build up under a liner and push it up creating large bubbles (looking like a hippos back). 

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MAIN STRUCTURE   (SIP's_Structural Insulated Panels)

 

We used a SIP construction for various reasons. 

1- speed of assembly 

2- limits wastage of materials 

3- the resulting structure is thermally efficient, with good U-values and no coldbridging 

The weather was awful for a good part of this phase. Wind can be a problem when swinging in big panels but we managed to push through. 

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Membrane wrap.

Finally getting closer to getting watertight.. 

MEMBRANE 

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TIMBER CLADDING_

Cladding going up.. 

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SOLAR_

 

Solar panels don't have to go on your roof.

If you've got the space you can place them on weighed down tubs as we have here.

This way you can orientate them to optimise on their gain and they do not interfere with the architecture

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BOULDERS_

Carefully placing the boulders into the Natural Swimming Pond

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FIREPLACE SHUTTERING#1

 

The 8 meter high chimney floated on a reinforced concrete cantilever that we created. 

Another great advantage of using concrete here is the thermal mass that it creates. As the fireplace warms up heat transfers to the concrete which in turn creates a more efficient/slower release of heat that the fire generates.  

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SNUG FIREPLACE SHUTTERING#2

The concrete shuttering for the Snug fireplace was to be left on show. We carefully selected the wood that had a rich wood grain. 

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STAIRCASE

Really chuffed we managed to pull this one off. Brian, the fabricator pictured here was amazing.

As usual did the 3D modelling of the 2 staircases however this time I also had to build it. 

It arrived as 12mm thick twisted steel stringers that we had to carefully assemble on site. It was welded in-situ, clad in timber and then rendered with a textured micro-cement

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