Working with a predetermined massing and volume of the development, BDP maneuvered around the basic block buildings to design a sustainable project. Relying on solar passive design, the east-west oriented buildings take advantage of the sun for their winter time heating. The full height, triple-paned, south facade acts as a closed in balcony for each apartment. The greenhouse principle comes into play pulling in the sun’s heat to help warm the apartments. In the summer, the louvered windows can be opened along with other windows across the apartment to create cross ventilation and facilitate natural cooling.
The six-story buildings are covered in green with living walls on either side and rooftop gardens for the residents’ pleasure. At the center of each roof is a sculptural rainwater harvesting collector that also creates a covered deck for tai chi. The design also incorporates super insulation, very low air leakage, elimination of thermal bridging, solar hot water collectors, photovoltaic cells, advanced heat recovery, LED lighting, CHP and earth tubes. Unlike Western kitchens that are open to the living space, these kitchens are separated from the living space to accommodate for “vigorous wok cooking”. Each apartment shares a double height outdoor space for outdoor cooking. The apartment buildings aim to outperform the best in European low-energy residential buildings (such as Passivhaus) and challenge the forthcoming UK zero carbon homes standards.