The Houl

RIBA award winning sustainable construction in Galloway, South-West Scotland

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Since 1954

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Architect Simon Winstanley and his wife Annie build their own home on a West facing slope in Galloway in South-West Scotland. Simon is a pioneer in low energy house design in Scotland, and aimed to create a sustainable construction, low energy in consumption, with net zero carbon emissions in all its energy use. The Houl won a RIBA award and got a special mention in Scotland's Best Building awards.

A large expanse of glazing facing West takes advantage of the wonderful views, incorporates the main living accommodation of lounge, kitchen, dining area and music room. The house is partially heated via solar gain, from its high performance triple glazed NorDan NTech windows and glazed external doors. But it's clad in ceder weatherboard, and includes passive house standards of house standards of insulation in the walls and roof. Renewable mechanical systems include an air source heat pump that powers the underfloor heating and hot water, and a whole heat recovery ventilation system that brings in tempered fresh air.

Although the Houl can be considered as an ultra low energy house, Simon says, "There are passive house standards of insulation in the walls but a true passive house has a limit to glazing and I've gone for too much glazing because the view is so fantastic. The flipside is that I also get good solar gain, sometimes too much, which is why I designed the roof to overhang, offering some shade."

"The main principle is that our house is highly insulated, and I've taken a great deal of trouble to make the building airtight."