Macdonald Wright completes low-energy infill home in east London

The £340,000 Library House is a low-energy home next to Edwin Cooper’s Grade II-listed Clapton Library in Hackney. Macdonald Wright acted as both client and architect on the project.

The home uses glazed white clay brick with weathered Cor-ten steel, while its Northwold Road-facing facade has been designed to reference the proportion and colours of its neighbours with its coping level and windows mirroring the proportions of adjacent cottages.

The vertical Cor-ten steel plane acts as a formal separation between the red brick library and white cottages.

The window heads to the front elevation have been constructed out of a lime-scraped tile slip detail, referencing similar detailing of the adjacent library arches and inspired by southern English vernacular architecture and the Arts and Crafts movement.

The building envelope retains heat through significant insulation thicknesses, triple-glazed windows and rooflights and very low air permeability.

It also features 10 PV panels and a compact MVHR unit – all contributing to bringing the energy requirements for heating down to 750W over winter – a 10th of the requirements for a new-build house set under current building standards.

The house is certified to the AECB Building Standard (Association for Environment Conscious Building, based on the Passivhaus Standard).

Macdonald Wright Library House garden shower%C2%A9Heiko Prigge

Architect and client’s view

While to be commercially viable, new homes need to generate profit through sale or rental, society is quite rightly demanding that future development must prioritise affordability and sustainability while maintaining quality of design.
James Macdonald Wright, practice founder, Macdonald Wright

 200814 NW Northwold Road presentation plans 2

Project data

Start on site July 2019
Completion date August 2020
Gross internal floor area 84m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 107.5m²
Form of contract or procurement route Traditional – JCT Minor Works
Construction cost £340,000
Construction cost per m2 £3,163
Architect Macdonald Wright Architects
Client James Macdonald Wright
Structural engineer Osbourne Edwards
Quantity surveyor GQS Services
Sustainability consultant Conker Conservation
Principal designer Macdonald Wright Architects
Approved building inspector Butler and Young
Main contractor DanEco Build
CAD software used Vectorworks, SketchUp

Environmental performance data

Percentage of floor area with daylight factor >2% 100%
Percentage of floor area with daylight factor >5% 35%
On-site energy generation 35%
Annual mains water consumption 35m3/occupant
Airtightness at 50Pa 1.3 m3/h.m2
Heating and hot water load 17 kWh/m2/yr
Overall area-weighted U-value Not supplied
Design life 125 years
Embodied / whole-life carbon 372 kgCO2eq/m2
Annual CO2 emissions 10.8 kgCO2eq/m2

NB purchased electricity is from 100% renewable sources only so annual emissions are zero

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