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23/07/09 | One year on. It is just over a year since my father died.  My mother is living in her new home and enjoyi... {more}
24/11/08 | Virgin - arghhh! Oh the joys! Today we undertook the installation of our Virgin phone / broadband cable from the hous... {more}
23/11/08 | Awadukt results This morning we've had our first chance to look at our ground to air energy transfer, in the absence... {more}

What

What indeed? A modest three bedroom bungalow in the back garden of Bill and Jeans existing bungalow. Well, that was what it started out as. Make it Chalet style, with 2 bedrooms in the roof, to get it to fit onto the very odd shaped plot. Buy a strip of wasteland from Kent County Council, that borders the plot, enabling us to gain access without demolishing the existing garage and conservatory and off you go!

We originally secured outline planning on that basis.Then Rick our good friend and renown architect came to see us at Bill and Jean's and was inspired by the challenge of the space versus their needs and decided to "have a quick look at it" for us!

Now, we have an architectural masterpiece that fills the plot to perfection, leaving just enough of the garden to be manageable, yet the building feels like it sits amongst the trees where it has always sat. The low build height, coupled with the need to recess the Northern end into the slope of the hill, allow the building to "sit down" into the landscape; add in the gentle curves of the roof and the approach wall and it feels like it belongs there!

The barrel vaulted roof grew out of a desire to minimise the skyline impact for the neighbours whilst allowing the creation of an uplifting, double height, internal space. The shape of the building minimises the "wasted" circulation space within whilst zoning the spaces according to use. The en-suite guest bedrooms are located at the far end of the property, where they can be closed up and ignored, until needed. Next comes a library / study to provide a focal point for all the administrative tasks of Jean's life. Then comes the main living space - Open, bright and airy, with the sitting room flowing into the dining area and the kitchen beyond. Turning the corner leads to an internal conservatory, with a barrel vaulted glass roof, with Bill and Jeans en-suite bedroom completing the package. All doors, internal and external, have flush to floor thresholds and are oversized in width, so Bill can go where he pleases, without assistance. The utility room leads from the back of the kitchen to the garage, allowing easy access to and from the car on wet and inclement days.

Environmentally the building is an exercise in what is sensibly achievable, with "standard" materials and a limited budget. The "Earth Shelter" / "Earthship" model of the true eco-warrior has many valuable and positive qualities to recommend it, yet it is not something that one envisages becoming "main stream" in the forseeable future; all of the materials and technologies used in Bluebell Bungalow are commercially available in the marketplace today, but not necessarily in the context we have utilised them in. Products from such diverse fields as the signmaking industry, mass housebuilding and large commercial buildings all find a place, as we shall see.