Eco-Design In Action
As Mike had been a teacher of design and technology since 1969, he wanted to design their house himself. Having collected magazine clippings, sketches and photographs of likely designs as inspiration, he spent six months making a model which was reasonably close to what they wanted. Then, browsing through Build It, he spotted a similar house, a wooden eco-home designed by architect Andrew Yeats of Eco-Arc.
Mike was impressed by Andrew’s approach, which favoured renewable materials from sustainable sources, and arranged a meeting. “I expected him to be offended by being presented with an amateur’s scruffy model,” says Mike. In fact, Andrew was glad to have a clear indication of what his clients wanted and produced a set of drawings based on Mike’s model, the Rochester’s applied for detailed planning permission.
Andrew Yeats had designed the house to be independent of all services, with water from a borehole and electricity from a 2.5kW wind turbine feeding into a battery bank and an inverter, backed up by a 10KVA diesel generator. The building is designed to utilise passive solar gain: the large south-facing windows transmit energy into the two high- density concrete flanking walls and the 20cm floor slab which sits on 5cm of Styrofoam. This thermal mass provides a heat store that buffers swings in temperature.
Planning permission was granted for the turbine, along with a government grant, no local objections were made, the order was placed, a rock-drill hired and high tensile studding set into the rock to receive the tower base plate.
The borehole went ahead with Mike employing a water diviner to walk around with bits of bent rod twisting vigorously in his hands. He identified several locations, then held out his hand for the agreed £100 fee. His prediction of good water at 36.5m (120ft) was accurate and the Rochesters now enjoy a supply of over 455 litres (100 gallons) of water per hour, rendered clean and wholesome after passing through filter and ultraviolet light.