BUILDING WITH THE FUTURE IN MIND - Ashfield Building Group

Ashfield always like to build with the future in mind. That might appear to be an obvious statement, but for Ashfield it describes two intertwined strands of forward-thinking. Firstly, it’s about the creation of future-proof properties which can adapt to the occupants’ changing needs. Secondly, it’s about sustainable development which is vital to ensure the wellbeing of the planet for generations to come. It’s often under-appreciated that the former benefits the latter: reducing amount of the modification and reconstruction in the lifecycle of a building will significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

Our exciting new project in Wetherby encapsulates those twin objectives. Ashfield are replacing an existing bungalow with a modern, energy-efficient property that has the flexibility and space required to provide ‘lifetime living’ – in other words, a home that will meet the clients’ lifestyle needs through the coming decades and throughout their long-term retirement. Designed by A+J Architects, this impressive concept will feature three bedrooms on the first floor as well as a ground floor office with adjoining cloakroom and accessible bathroom which have potential to be combined and converted into a bedroom with en-suite shower room. The entrance hall will offer a threshold to accessible standards and a large open-plan space, accommodating ease of movement internally, whilst storage will be provided under the stairs for a wheelchair if required. All masonry openings will be a minimum width of 1010mm to ensure that all ground floor rooms are accessible.

The scheme also includes double garage with ample width to allow a wheelchair user to park a car and manoeuvre more easily towards the front door, which will have a level approach. The south elevation will provide level access to an external seating area with ramp access to garden, where an existing natural pond will be retained and enhanced to become a feature.

The balance of the ground floor’s functionality has been planned to accommodate work commitments and leisure time. The office is complemented by a theatre/cinema room whilst the views are maximised from a large open plan living/dining/kitchen space extending from front to rear.

The use of light is also an important dynamic within the design. On entering the hallway, the eye will be drawn forwards to the extensive glazing that opens out onto the south-facing garden and welcomes an abundance of solar penetration. Light also filters in from the client designed coloured glass window on the staircase and the rooflight above it. The roof has a deep overhang on the southern elevation to provide shade and a sheltered area to enable use of the patio in rainy weather.

The clients are also mindful of the character of the surrounding area and sensitive to the potential issue of overlooking.  After detailed discussion with A+J Architects it was decided that two storeys at full height could be overbearing on neighbouring properties. The core ethos of the design was the creation of a modern home that would respect the scale and massing of the neighbouring properties, so the house will provide a fully functional upstairs space within a traditionally pitched roof, including a substantial covered balcony accessed via sliding doors. The master bedroom will feature dressing room and en-suite shower room and the other two bedrooms each have their own en-suite shower rooms.

The client’s requirements were to create an extremely high thermal performance for this project – as well as increasing their comfort whilst reducing their running costs, it has also served their sustainability objective. It’s one of a range of environmentally friendly features which also includes, automated ventilation for the main living spaces and an orientation/layout that makes optimum use of solar gain, shading and daylight. The use of client designed automation will minimise energy use within the structure by controlling lights, blinds, curtains and window openings.

Ashfield Director, Joel Ramsden, commented on the project:

“This superb design reflects the clients’ desire to invest in a ‘forever home’ and their foresight has been channelled by A+J Architects in creating a solution that will be fit for purpose regardless of the residents’ age or mobility. The focus on sustainability is equally impressive. A+J Architects have devoted plenty of attention to how the design will harness natural resources whilst reducing the property’s carbon footprint. It’s an outstanding concept and closely aligned with Ashfield’s core values in construction.”