Crossways

"An award winning design combining 21st and 14th century technologies"

This unique home in the English countryside of Staplehurst, Kent has taken a page from architecture history and mixed it with state-of-the-art design to create a one-of-a-kind house. Designed by Architect Richard Hawke, the home's arched roof is a timbrel vault - an arch that follows a parabola rather than circle. The result is that the roof requires no added support and reduces material use. Contrasting with the 14th century roof technology is a host of high-tech materials and equipment that helped the Crossway House become the first certified Passive House in England.

The home's 20-meter roof span was built using timbrel vault construction, a classical building technique that has been largely forgotten since the onset of modern high-strength materials. The roof features a layer of 26,000 locally handmade clay tiles mortared together to make a supporting web. A green roof was applied on top to help regulate the home's interior temperature, and the home's rounded shape reduces exterior surface area which in turn saves energy.

The house received an A-A rating on its Energy Performance Certificate (EPCs) and it is also on its way to becoming the first certified Passive House in England. New technologies complement the old to provide the 3000 square-foot home with an extremely energy-efficient shell. Triple-pane windows to the south help heat the internal thermal mass and a first-of-its-kind vacuum exterior door offers the equivalent of 20 inches of foam insulation.

The tight building envelope requires a HRV to provide fresh air, and the home supplements passive heating strategies with a biomass boiler. A combination solar-electric and solar hot water array provides the home with ample supplies of renewable energy. The home even incorporates Phase Change Materials (PCM) to effectively store heat in the winter and regulate heat in the summer. The rest of the walls are insulated with cellulose, or shredded newspaper. The home harvests roof water for use indoors as well.

The interior finishes include a recycled glass bath floor and recycled tyre matting on the main level as well as a tile ceiling that spans the internal boxes. Even the staircase gets into the act with bricks mounted on a parabola span.

The Carbon Free Group was responsible for a number of world first technologies applied to this landmark project, including the phase change thermal storage system, the first commercial demonstration of PV-T in the UK, vacuum insulated doors to the front and rear of the building and more.

The project has been monitored by Cambridge University and the data gathered from the building, used to communicate what has worked and what hasn't many times.