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Low energy passive solar house

Boat house

Passive Solar House, Louth
Passive solar house, Louth.jpg

Private house design In Louth based on passive solar principles. The plan is designed so that the main rooms have windows facing south. Double height conservatories to trap heat and add insulation were designed to be added in two south west facing corners. 

The entrance hall is triple height up to the roof with a gallery around it on the first floor and a lantern at the apex of the roof to let light down into the centre of the house and provide stack natural ventilation.Cavity walls and roof are well insulated and wooden windows triple glazed equivalent.

Boat House, Wallingford

Specification of University boat house on the Thames at Wallingford. As the site is on the flood plan, the building was required to be raised to allow water to flood through. The boat storage area however was at ground level and designed to cope with flooding, which did not affect the launch house because the launches are kept in the water. Gable glazing provides views over the river and spacious well lit internal rooms. 

Mental health unit 

Secure mental health 60 bed unit in London had to be thoughtfully designed to be a safe and secure home with careful attention given to all the building elements and the finishes, fixtures and fittings. I was part of the team at Tuke Manton responsive for specification and schedules for both projects.  

Rear extension for house 

Rear extension, Barnes
Rear extension interior 2, Barnes
Rear extension interior 1, Barnes

Kitchen/dining extension for an existing house in London. The roof height was limited by planning. Therefore several small roof lights were used to provide sunlight and daylight. As the room has a south east facing orientation the gable end could be well glazed without resulting in room overheating most of the year and has a large overhang to shade at mid summer, whilst the roof lights have motorised blinds for solar control and opening for natural ventilation. Glazed doors, with glass panels over them, at the rear allow daylight to reach into the rooms of the original house before extension.

Sustainable office project

Benign Office project
Benign Office project section

Proposal for a prototype healthy and low energy office design for business park in Swindon. An central atrium rises above the roof level to provide light into the middle of the building and assist ventilation. Wings project from the main building to provide good daylight to the offices and create courtyards. These are planted to lessen glare and have water features to help cooling on hot days as well as provide sheltered places to sit out.

Renovation of Victorian appartment blocks 

These were three fine looking Victorian apartment buildings built in central London for the employees of a brewery, which were converted into hostels for single people. 

As with so many projects involving existing buildings, there were some unforeseen items which altered the nature of the project. It was found that in bathroom areas floors were made of a concrete mix that had deteriorated, the replacement of which resulted in disruption of the proposed works and additional cost.  

The presence of a site architect was required and this provided extremely valuable experience  experience in practical traditional and modern construction as opposed to working only on design matters in the office. It also required considerable tests of judgement as to deciding which works were necessary and which could be left because the financial implications for the client of each decision could be considerable. 


Rebuilding of rugby and hockey clubhouse 

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View of the pitch facing side of the reconstructed and extended clubhouse showing the new angled wings with rooms in the roof and balconies . The angled wings are also intended to create a courtyard feel, a sense of enclosure, for outdoor socialising. 

This is an Edwardian clubhouse for the Old Cranleighans rugby, hockey and cricket teams. In the 1920s and 30s the club was well known as a strong rugby side with international and county players. One night here was a fire which destroyed irretrievably the original rectangular building consisting of just the central section between the two balconies.

When it was rebuilt the decision by all involved was to retain the original look and feel of the clubhouse, and also to extend it because the rugby and hockey section in particular, were thriving. Keeping to the original style also many that planning consent would be easier to obtain for this green belt site.

There was sufficient room to extend at either end but were there to be any further need to expand in the future, it would run over the boundary at one end and too near to the grandstand at the other.    

The design therefore rebuilt the centre section where it had been and added four new sections -  two new cranked wings at each end which were at an angle to the original rectangle. This meant that any future extension would be nearly at right angles to the original building and expanding into unconstrained open space. 

At the same time it was decided to build an all weather hockey pitch and build it in front of the grandstand instead of the rugby pitch. This was partly in acknowledge that the hockey club had attained a high standard and was in major leagues and also because players could sit in it and watch hockey whilst waiting to come on for the next game.

The club earns useful revenue from a music club because the insulated roof and wooden ceiling of the main Clubroom room provide a mellow sound. 

OC Club room.jpeg

The main club room had the roof opened up and roof lights added. most of the timber used in the reconstruction of the clubhouse and the grandstand was generously donated by a member in the timber business. 

The central section which was and still is the main room used for post match teas and other functions, had a conventional flat ceiling. In rebuilding it, the roof was opened up to create a more spacious feel and roof lights placed on the south side for sunlight and daylight. 

The new wings were provided with an upper floor for rooms-in-the-roof and two large balconies. These were for general purpose use - team tactic sessions, committee meetings etc. 

OC Club & pitch.jpeg

View of the artificial hockey pitch with the club house in the background. An artificial hockey pitch produces a lot of spoil which is expensive to take away from site. Since the boundaries of the ground were porous and dog walkers allowed their dogs to foul pitches, it was decided that the spoil be placed along the boundaries as a high barrier to deter casual intruders and indicate private land. 

OC Club shower room.jpeg

One of the new changing rooms in the car park end wing. The traditional white tiles were ejected in favour of coloured tiles for a warmer feeling. A 'Cranleigh' cross was added to display sense of place and identity - even in a changing room !

The materials and detailing  were designed for durability given the hard use they have. The non slip floor tiles still look new years later due to selection and to high-level maintenance by the Club manager. 

Renovation and extension of Georgian house

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The house next door was also involved as both had to have their slightly bulging parapet walls rebuilt and tied back to the floors and party walls.

As much of the original as possible was preserved but much had to be repaired and strengthened because some of the original construction was at a time when materials were in short supply.

This project, to renovate a London Georgian house built in 1824, involved listed building consent to completely renovate it, enlarge the basement for a kitchen and dining room, add a 2nd floor rear extension and a side glazed extension

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A roof light was included in the roof of new 2nd floor to illuminate the stairwell. Joining the new and old levels required some fancy carpentry with the landing.  

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The side of the rear extension was not a very usable space so it was enclosed and had two levels. Doors connected the ground floor and a spiral stair, the basement. 

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Rather than a flat roof, the side extension was given a vaulted glazed roof to maximise day light in the adding rooms and basement. It also helped reduce heat loss from the house. 

Rebuilding of oak framed building

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The rotten oak at low level had to be replaced and other timbers repaired and strengthened. 

Staircase detail for barn conversion

The drawing for the staircase which needed to be carefully designed because the volume was limited. 

Mochdre - Staircase.jpeg

The staircase used existing oak that was no longer needed - hence the interesting handrail.

Mochre - Elevation.jpeg

This oak framed building in Wales was called the College Barn, maybe because reputably it had been used as a school as well as previously or subsequently been a house or a barn or both. But it was  was in a poor way, propped up by a huge fireplace and chimney stack, and clad with corrugated iron sheets. As much of the original frame as possible was retained and repaired, and new oak frame was added outside of the original.  Since the roof was corrugated iron, it was not known what the original roof covering was. The client wanted thatch and despite initial local planning objections which preferred slate, the final outcome has been very popular. 

Community Men's Shed

The Men's Shed movement  is a world wide one and having a Shed was seen by the Community Association as essential to combat loneliness and stress that retired men, more than women, are likely to suffer from.


Men's sheds come in all shapes and guises from shipping containers to redundant factories. There's no standard. This design is for a replicable standard shed of a minimum useful area and volume for a workshop type building taking account of likely floor loadings etc and supporting facilities.


In order to allow this minimum standard Shed design to have the potential for expansion there are there three modules. The largest is the main Shed (workshop). The second is a WC and kitchen module. Bothe of these have pitched roofs to provide daylight on the north side and solar energy on the south pitch. These two are joined by a flat roofed module which can be used as for storage on either side or as a corridor to a fire exit if more are needed.


On the drawings an optional fourth module is shown - a porch, which has steps up on one site and a ramp on the other. the railings are in fact a double gate to allow the porch to also be an unloading bay for larger materials like long lengths of timber or heavy equipment. For flexibility, there are also sliding double doors at the side which can be used for loading. 

The only site that could be found for the Shed was one that was offered at a peppercorn rent by the charity, WWT, on Metropolitan Open Land. This designation, like Green Belt land, protects land from development which meant that planning consent was resisted by the planners who required, amongst pother things, a BREAM excellent rating. Much extra effort had therefore to be put into the environmental credentials of the scheme and with considerable local support it obtained consent. 

One particular advantage of the site was that although users are likely to walk or cycle, it was close to various buses and one even came into the site. For deliveries of materials, the site has i9dea access given that it is in a corner of a car park. 

The site is on a flood plain and the site owner required the Shed to be removeable. The design is therefore timber frame raised off the ground on pads. In the north facing pitched roofs there are rooflights to provide the good daylight needed in a workshop. They are remotely controlled rooflights to for ventilation. The south facing pitches have  photovoltaic panels. Maintenance access to most of the array is from the flat roof of a linking building separating the workshop from the service facilities. 

Mens Shed plans.jpeg

The Shed is sited in the end bays of a car park. The plan shows the three modules of Workshop, Link, and WC/kitchen. The roof plan has rooflights facing north and photovoltaic panels facing south. the flat roof of he link provides maintenance access to the solar panels.

Mens Shed elev & section.jpeg

The section shows that the volume is maximised by having no ceiling and the truss structure is capable of being used to hoist heavy loads. The Shed is sited slightly away from the south boundary to avoid shading of the roof from some trees for visually the whole year.  

The Shed will also act as a maintenance service for the other activities on the MOL which are sports and the London Wetlands.

Proposal for community theatre

Project for a 200 seat  theatre designed to take advantage of the car park and cafe/restaurant facilities of an adjoining visitor attraction that is not open at night.

The theatre is for drama, dance, music, singing etc. It can also be used for corporate events during the day to provide income for the charity that owns the site.


A bridge at circle level would connect the theatre to the existing site facilities so theatre goers could have drinks and meals before the performance or in the interval as there is insufficient room for bars in the new theatre building and extra income is earned by the site owner.  

A major problem for theatres is overheating. The design therefore  has towers for fan assisted natural ventilation, and a system of cooling incorporated into the thermal mass of the structure using water from nearby lakes.


Air in a void under the building is cooled and rises into the auditorium to replace hot air that is vented via the towers. 

Changing rooms, rehearsal room and administrative office are wrapped d around the stage area and at rear part of the building. There is also a large workshop at the rear with good vehicle access for scenery etc.  

Community theatre sketch

Extension of Victorian house

Rear extension, Kew

The client for this rear extension in Kew wanted something that was in keeping the existing house and maintained a distance from an existing bay window on the rear elevation. This and the thought creating a pavilion like structure, determined the shape. A large bay with a high roof was added t the garden end for spaciousness and views. The well insulated roof has narrow windows, but several of them, in order to fill the space with daylight and sunlight without overheating or losing too much heat. A glass crown, partially coloured,  was made by an artist to surmount the hole at the pinnacle of the roof and filter down sparkling light. Lead sheet was cut on site to provide special shaped 'slates' both for visual effect and to cope with the curving and diminishing roof shape.  

Extension of Georgian house

Listed cottage extension

The extension of this more or less south facing Georgian cottage in the middle of fields, presented the usual dilemma of whether to go traditional or modern. After many different sketch designs, this one compromises by using traditional materials. But the shape is curving to help gain more afternoon sunshine into the kitchen/dining extension (east facing windows let in earlier morning sun) and the roof is curving so allowing a large volume inside and distinguishing the extension from the original cottage. The south facing side of the roof is glazed but has insulated slatted shutters to close in order to prevent summer overheating and winter heat loss. Photovoltaic panels are placed on an enlarged existing shed at the rear as the site visually sensitive. 

Addition for space and  light

Bay window from side IMG_5238.JPG.jpeg
View from garden IMG_5244..jpeg
View from inside IMG_5249.jpeg

The client had an existing kitchen/dining flat roofed extension which they felt could have benefit from having more character and feeling of spaciousness. As a relatively low cost solution that did not involve works with foundations etc, was to break open the flat roof and add a higher glazed structure as a projecting bay that provided an atrium like feel as well as bring sunlight and daylight further into the interior.

Roof conversion to improve on the then normal 

This project was for the roof extension of an Edwardian house  where there were not many previously and where there were, at the back the extensions were normally unsightly  boxes like the one seen in the photo. 

The challenge was to improve on this unsightly normal model that builders and loft conversion firms loved to inflict on neighbourhoods. The design set the wall of the roof extension back a little so as not to dominate the existing rear elevation and set it between the raised party walls for good stability and weathering. Little space was lost by doing so by the visual improvement was considered.

The design was popular with the planners, who subsequently asked others adding roof extensions to follow this design. The photo shows that over the years the surrounding houses have copied the design with slight variations.  

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The rest of the houses in the area have, at the request of the planners, copied the design with only slight variations.  

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The roof extension on the left was what was normal at the time.

The roof extension which the planners liked and was built, is on the right 


Small side extension needed for bathroom

Like many Victorian houses this one  had a narrow yard beside the original rear extension, which contained the kitchen.  

The client had a disability and required a downstairs bathroom. The rear extension was fully taken up by the kitchen and the front rooms of the main house by the sitting room and dining room, which meant the only solution was to place it in the yard and roof over.  

One half was enough for a bathroom. The rest could be a useful study area.

The builder was good and the extension looks as new as it looked  when it was built over 20 years ago. 

The former side yard  looking towards the front reception rooms from which a corridor to the garden needed maintaining.  The front part of the area makes a good study work area.

The side extension maintains a through corridor to the garden. But when the wet room is used, the doors seen on the right beyond the study area open out to block the corridor and make a 'wet room'

However, the problem with using the side yard was that access to the garden at rear would be blocked - there was space in the kitchen for a door out.

The solution was to make the whole area 'waterproof' and build a shower, basin and  WC against the side wall with double doors closing it off so that a corridor to the garden could be maintained - a bit like a railway carriage. 

But when the facilities are used, the two doors can be opened out to become doors to an enlarged  'wet room' that close off the corridor to provide privacy. They are dual use doors. When they are closed, one would not know the corridor passed through a 'bathroom'.                                                            

There is no right angle in nature . . . . . .  but it is hard to avoid in construction.

Contact:   Michael Buckley      tel:  +44 (0)7838 155739       eml: