Energy-smart homes needn’t look futuristic—just ask Gresford Architects, the UK-based firm behind this energy-efficient dwelling that looks just like a “normal” English countryside home. Located in the village of Chieveley in West Berkshire, the tall gabled building was crafted as a modern reinterpretation of the region’s timber barns. Despite its simple appearance, the "Old Water Tower" boasts an ultra-low energy footprint that meets rigorous Passivhaus standards.
From a distance, the barn-inspired Old Water Tower blends in with its agricultural settings. However, a closer look reveals that the traditional-looking structure is surprisingly modern with crisp lines and a contemporary interior. “We have aimed to create a house that is on the cutting edge of sustainable design, yet eschews the hair-shirt approach to sustainable living that many people think of when considering environmentally friendly homes,” Gresford Architects said to Dezeen.
The two-story gabled home is clad in black-stained timber weatherboarding punctuated by triple-glazed, operable windows and doors on all four sides. To minimize heat loss, the windows on the north side are the smallest. Automatic external shading systems are installed on the east, south, and west elevations to maintain a stable indoor temperature.
The bright and spacious interior is lined with wood floors and dominated by white-painted walls that reflect natural light. The communal areas, located on the first floor, follow a “broken-plan” layout, with a centrally located staircase that separates the living room from the kitchen and dining area. The four visually distinct bedrooms are located upstairs.
Images via Gresford Architects