Designer Eco-Reserve in the Cotswolds, England

by , 03/22/08

Lower Mill Estate, Richard Reid, Will Alsop, Sarah Featherstone, nature reserve, Cotswolds, designer eco-homes

The English Cotswolds are well-known around the world for being a place of picturesque natural beauty, and now this tourist-favorite is about to become home to stunning architectural beauty as well, with the development of Lower Mill Estate, a collection of modern eco-homes. Lower Mill Estate in Gloucestershire, England is a development of luxury waterside eco-homes featuring Britain’s biggest collection of architect-designed modern homes. Custom designs by over 22 architects, including Richard Reid, Will Alsop and Sarah Featherstone, 48 houses combine with a beautiful natural setting to create a unique living experience that is connected to nature.

The project turned a barren landscape of deserted gravel pits into a 450-acre, seven lake nature reserve offering habitat to rare species such as kingfishers, otters and beavers. Residents enjoy the reserve with outdoor activities like walking, cycling and fishing. An eco-spa, with Britain’s first natural swimming pool cleaned by nothing but plants, provides indulging green leisure activities, as do an organic farm and locally-sourced farm shop, and green space allotments that are serviced by staff when residents are away.

Lower Mill Estate set new standards by being Britain’s first development to introduce ‘compulsory’ green initiatives, such as requiring each house to be equipped with a Planet Switch, preventing non-essential appliances from being left in energy-hungry standby mode.

One downside is that the estate is intended to provide second homes, watering down the sustainability and community aspects. However, it’s still an intriguing concept that offers a great vision for well-designed primary homes.

+ Lower Mill Estate

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  3. hugo March 25, 2008 at 4:29 am

    Hum, let’s see. Funding a natural rehabilitation of gravel pits with 22 modern (quite temporary design) “green” second homes. I bet this is just a posh yuppey project for people with too much money. The gravvel pit is put back into natural service for the benifit of the 22 second home owners. Though I like the modern architecture and the environment the project’s in, I doubt the honesty of the initiative.

  4. Erik van Lennep March 24, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    OK, the images are nice, viewed individually. Put together however, “Britain’s biggest collection of architect-designed modern homes.” is a theme park. I appreciate using development to pay for landscape restoration, but I am willing to bet the project would be paid for somewhere short of the 22 homes. And turning off standby appliances is not really the determining factor of an eco-home. I am sure there are other features planned, but it would be good to hear about them as well. I am not sure the beavers are going to be too popular either when they start cutting down lakeside trees to build their dams and lodges. The battle of the architects! Natures architects versus ego-designers?

  5. Nick Simpson March 22, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    They’re reintroducing Beavers into the UK – I know there was a site down south and one in Scotland a few years ago, this might be another site. I expect the regeneration of the gravel pits is effectively being funded by these homes, otherwise they might not have built them – I can only imagine there’s a very strong case for these homes being built in the middle of the countryisde, which would go against a number of planning policies.

    I heard about this a year or so ago but didn’t know the designs were in… I’ll have a good look at this. I’m interested to see Sarah Featherstone’s work, she’s produced some great stuff recently.

  6. Gregory March 22, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Um… beavers? Alas, that’s one beast that probably won’t benefit from the gravel pit nature reserves. They’ve been extinct in England for centuries.

    Shame, also, that these are second homes. Plenty of gravel pits are being converted for biodiversity without indulging City types with showcases for their own wealth.

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