Known as The Muse, this incredible greenery-topped energy-efficient solar house is Bere Architects' own family home. Located in Newington Green, North London, it was designed to set a standard for sustainable housing even before the firm's first certified Passivhaus in Camden was planned. Featuring triple glazing and solar thermal water heating, the home was designed for energy conservation and it boasts four luscious green roofs. The Muse is also expected to receive Passivhaus certification soon.
Inspired by the German Passivhaus approach and technical methods developed by physicist Wolfgang Feist, Bere Architects’ own director Justin Bere started building his own home back in 2002. Low CO2 concrete foundations and first floor slab were made with ground granulated blast furnace slag to replace most of the cement, provide thermal mass for stable temperatures and a natural summer cooling effect. In keeping with Bere’s passionate belief in the urgent environmental need for change, the home was designed for energy preservation.
The house has triple glazed windows all around, 20 inch thick super-insulated walls and very good airtightness, saving up to 95% on energy bills. The powerful solar water heating system generates enough hot water to dump excess heat into a 36-foot long swimming pool. Water managment is an important issue and there is no use of chlorine and rainwater is recycled for use in lavatories and the roof gardens if necessary.
If there is any rainwater excess, it can be stored in a 3000 litre underground tank before reaching WCs and gardens. In order to attract native wildlife in the middle of London, four lovely green roofs with varying soils were created and forty native birch trees were planted along the gravel entrance. Within the gardens, there are two wild flower meadows that attracting all sorts of wildlife like bumble bees and house sparrows, which are sadly an endangered species. Birds and insects enjoy drinking and bathing at the ponds, cool bat and bird boxes were built within the brick walls and a hazel coppice and hawthorn thicket produces fast growing sustainable wood adding to the wildlife oasis in the heart of London.
Photo © Bere Architects