Rocky Lane, St Agnes - A fantastic step towards cutting-edge Eco Homes
PUBLISHED: 14:26 14 August 2012 | UPDATED: 12:13 28 February 2013
Rocky Lane in St Agnes is a development of cutting-edge eco homes, sensitively and sustainably designed.
If you go down to the woods today...
Rocky Lane in St Agnes is a development of cutting-edge eco homes, sensitively and sustainably designed
Building a house on a steep hillside presents various challenges, but when the site is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site, those challenges multiply. Not one to take the easy route, Simon Blackburn from Living Structures fell in love with a secluded 3.5 acre woodland site close to the village of St Agnes. He had a vision of creating a collection of cutting-edge eco homes in the form of light and airy timber structures that would float just above the woodland floor.
Working with architect Joel Turkel, this vision has become a reality: at Rocky Lane, ten individually-designed detached second homes are being developed, using innovative design features to overcome the challenges of the steep and rocky site and complement its natural beauty.
The aim was to minimise the impact on the environment and embrace sustainability in all aspects
Simon comments: This is a very special location a beautiful woodland area so the aim was to minimise the impact on the environment and embrace sustainability in all aspects. We find that when people visit Rocky Lane and see what we are doing, they get hooked. This is true for budding surfers Liz and Daniel Smith from Clevedon near Bristol, who were the first buyers at Rocky Lane in 2010. They were looking for a second home not too far from their main home, so they could spend weekends there with their three young children, Olive, Sydney and Iris, then just lock up and leave.
I had enjoyed surfing and beach holidays as a child in this part of Cornwall and wanted to share those memories with my family. So when we saw the designs of the houses being built by Living Structures at Rocky Lane, we decided to take a closer look. comments Daniel.
We used local tradesmen for 90% of the work carried out
The development process at Rocky Lane is structured so that someone buys the plot of land and the home is then built to the plans, which means they can choose finishes that suit their own style and taste. The Smith family was able to make other changes to the original plans for the house to meet their needs such as adding a hot tub on the roof deck. Buying the land in the first instance and having a separate contract for the build also meant the property was exempt from paying stamp duty, which was a real bonus for the family.
On first sight, the most striking feature is the exterior of the Smiths house, clad in western red cedar wood to echo its woodland setting. The building is stepped into the contours of the site and appears to float above the ground, elevated on piles to reduce impact on the roots of surrounding trees and to allow rainwater to run off down the slope.
It is arranged over two storeys with four bedrooms, providing 1,400 sq ft of internal living space, as well as a 470 sq ft of sheltered outdoor living space in the form of two decks and a balcony. The large open plan kitchen, dining and lounge area connects with the main deck, through glass doors that slide back completely, which allow the family to go easily between indoors and outdoors. One interesting feature is the living platform - a large cantilevered window seat which reduces the size of the buildings foundations, again reducing its impact on the ground.
The home includes a wide array of energy saving features such as super insulation, energy-efficient windows, air source heat pumps and passive ventilation. These make the home extremely thermally efficient, surpassing current building requirements by 44%, which means lower utility bills for the family. All of the materials are chosen for their low carbon qualities, such as the timber frame construction, which has the lowest CO2 cost of any commercially-available building material.
This focus on the environment runs through all aspects of the development, as Simon explains: During construction, great care was taken to ensure as many of the existing trees were preserved as possible. We have used local tradesmen for 90% of the work carried out which is right for the local economy and cuts fuel costs to and from site
The homes eco credentials do not however mean it is short on luxury. The designer kitchen has statement purple units and granite worktop, as well as added extras such as a built in wine cooler, to make sure a glass of something chilled is always on hand. Purchasers are able to choose from a wide variety of colour and finish options to meet their individual taste. Underfloor heating and solid engineered hardwood floors are fitted, along with a wood-burning stove in the living room. Floor to ceiling windows in the living area means lots of natural light, as well as making the most of the views.
Liz sums up: The house is very sheltered among the trees. On New Years Eve, the hot tub, which is on the first floor balcony of the house, proved to be a great vantage point for watching a local fireworks display.
The remaining homes available to buy at Rocky Lane range in price from 495,995 to 650,000. For further information: 08448 805709,rockylanecornwall.com