Co-Design Workshop for Community Led Housing - Lawrence Weston, Bristol

Recently we were appointed following a competitive interview process to co-design 40 new homes at Astry Close in North Bristol for Ambition Lawrence Weston. The project is to design and deliver affordable housing on an empty site for local people. We are working in Partnership with Residents from Ambition Lawrence Weston, United Communities Housing Association and Bristol City Council, and with Grant funding from a variety of sources.


This week we held the first of a series of design workshops to explore the design process, and ideas for layouts with local people. We used a range of drawings, models, precedents and virtual reality tools to tease out ideas, suggestions and ways to improve on the excellent work prepared during the feasibility stage by our friends at Local Agenda.


Assisted Living in North Dorset - Planning Submission

We've been working over the last few months to develop a project for assisted living in North Dorset. The scheme will provide 18 new homes for young adults with a range of physical and learning difficulties who would otherwise be moved away from their families. The site comprises a former council building which will remodeled as flats, and space to the rear that will accommodate a new specialist building with 10 additional homes. Each ground floor flat has been designed to have its own private entrance so as to encourage residents to lead normal independent lives as far as practical. The building has been conceived to appear as terrace housing with coloured panels and front doors identifying individual units and adding character to the natural material palette.  

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Paragraph 55 Eco House in the Woods - 'Fallen Tree Long House'

We've been developing designs for a new ecologically positive house set in an amazing woodland site in West Sussex outside the development boundary. This entails using the renowned National Planning Policy Framework 'Paragraph 55' which requires that in order to achieve a consent, the design of a new home must be 'innovative or outstanding' and 'reflect the highest standards of design'. We're excited to be collaborating once more with Roundfield Landscape Architects whose job it is to 'significantly enhance the immediate setting' of the landscape.

Our proposal is minimises the removal of trees from the site, and is elevated from the ground to enable the understorey of the woodland to flow freely underneath the house. It will be built using an innovative pre-fabricated panel system made from recycled materials, and clad with logs, timber, and greenery; which will all provide additional habitat to enhance te.  

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Internally, the house has a variety of customised furniture walls that can each slide in either direction to change the size and configuration to enable a super flexible, family plan. The walls enable the house to change over time and accommodate different family scenarios. We made a simple animation of the concept design to explain the project to the clients, and used simple virtual reality as a tool to enable them to experience the spaces more easily.

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Site Progress on Current Projects

We've got a number of projects on site at the moment, and its exciting to see everyone's hard work coming to fruition at a variety of scales! In Bath our remodeling and extension project is starting to take shape with the structural work nearly complete. In Bristol, our project for 9 new apartments is nearing the end of demolitions which should mean the steel frame will begin to be erected soon! Watch this space.

 New steelwork and brick piers supporting the corner of the existing house.

New steelwork and brick piers supporting the corner of the existing house.

 The existing building is being demolished to first floor level, and a new structure will be built on top.

The existing building is being demolished to first floor level, and a new structure will be built on top.

3D Rendering

Developing designs for a kitchen using photo-realistic, computer-generated renders. Its such a useful tool to test how materials and finishes will come together... and all part of our Enhanced service package!

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Planning Consent for Bath World Heritage Site Received!

We're delighted to have received a planning consent for this side and rear extension within Bath's historic World Heritage Site. Notoriously tricky to get planning in, we proposed a series of sensitive contemporary additions (not the roof dormer, which is existing!) to this existing home that will be Cedar clad, have a green roof, big skylights and lots of glass connecting the new family rooms to the garden. We worked closely in collaboration with the planners to achieve a positive outcome that varies slightly from this initial sketch that we did during the Concept Design Stage.

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Bridport Passivhaus Submitted for Planning

This week we submitted a detailed planning application for a new house with 2 self contained flats within Bridport's Town Centre Conservation Area. The project has been carefully designed to Passivhaus principles, and will replace an empty dilapidated building on the site.

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Pre-Fabricated Back Garden City

We're developing our Back Garden City design to work with Tufeco's foam glass 'SIP' system. We had an exciting meeting with them to fine-tune the design and are now exploring the internal and external material language. Tufeco are going to build a prototype in their factory (watch this space for photos from our visit) and we hope it will become one of the pilot schemes for KWMC's We Can Make project.

 Unit Type 1, Cladding Option 3

Unit Type 1, Cladding Option 3

 Tufeco Sample Panel

Tufeco Sample Panel

 Draft Materials Palette

Draft Materials Palette

Barefoot Architects On Tour at Hauser and Wirth, Bruton

On the first Saturday of the month this autumn (Sat 7 Oct, 4 Nov & 2 Dec 2017), we will be offering free design consultations at the fabulous Hauser and Wirth gallery in Bruton, Somerset.

Throughout the exhibition ‘Josephsohn / Märkli. A Conjuntion’, RIBA Chartered Practice Barefoot Architects will be offering free monthly Saturday ‘surgeries’ to discuss your plans for building projects and offer advice.

Visitors are invited to book a 40 minute slot to discuss plans, schemes and dreams for large or small projects. It is an opportunity to meet with a qualified architect for a friendly and informal talk to discuss your ideas.

We have an outstanding record of gaining planning consents on difficult sites, and work strategically to add value for clients at every stage through creative, intelligent design. If style follows story, what’s your plot? Come and let us know!

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Chalk Wall House Tours for West Dorset Open Eco Homes

This weekend Sam gave tours around Chalk Wall House - a new self-build eco house built in Dorchester Dorset. It was part of the annual West Dorset Open Eco Homes event which has grown year on year to showcase different homes in the area with sustainable and ecological features. This passive solar eco house was the first completed project by Barefoot Architects in back 2010, and exemplifies our approach to creative strategies to unlock difficult sites and provide alternative thinking. The house is built from Chalk excavated from the site which helps to make it a low impact, low energy home to live in. The timber form work used to form the massive earth walls was re-used to make the timber frame for the roof, floors, and walls which are clad with Western Red Cedar Shingles shown below. A modular glu-laminated frame sits on to and into the Chalk and supports a cantilevered covered entrance space which doubles as solar shading to the South facing living room. Features include a biomass boiler, MVHR, undferfloor heating, green roofs, solar thermal water heating and rainwater harvesting. We designed the project with Integral Engineering Design in Bath and research and testing from Professor Pete Walker at Bath University. 


Back Garden City - Runner Up in RIBA Journal Multi-Generational Housing Competition

Yesterday we went to London for the RIBA Journal's award ceremony for their Multi-Generational Housing competition in conjunction with Norbord's Sterling OSB (Orientated Strand Board). We were thrilled to come runner-up with our 'Back Garden City' Proposal that is seeking to provide affordable housing for a variety of prospective residents in the back gardens of large semi-detached homes typical of post war UK Housing. The scheme could enable small clusters of dwellings to be formed to create pockets of cohousing and other community functions. We're actively developing the scheme in conjunction with Knowle West Media Centre for the community there, and looking at options for a joint venture with possible housing manufacturers / suppliers. It is hoped that a pilot project will be built within 2018, and enable further projects to be replicated, supplying up to 250 new homes per year in the neighbourhood. Watch this space......


We visited this year's stunning Serpentine pavillion designed by Diébédo Francis Kéré, the award-winning architect from Gando, Burkina Faso before the awards ceremony in Hyde Park.


Our scheme has been published in this months RIBA Journal. Its the second project we've had featured in this prestigious publication.


Recent Timber Clad Projects : Choosing the Right Species

We often get asked whether or not we work on timber frame projects. In short, yes! We love designing with timber, and believe it is a durable, robust and energy efficient way to build sustainably. Beyond the frame, one of the most important decisions to make is what to clad it with! Timber is often the natural choice for this method of construction (though not the only option), and selecting the most appropriate species needs some careful consideration. Factors to consider include aesthetics, durability, robustness, lifespan, weathering, discolouration, sizes and detailing. Some images below show 3 recent timber clad projects that are completed, or nearing completion. Siberian Larch (top 2 images) is a slow grown, durable species with a strong grain pattern and is available in long lengths. It will weather to a silver grey if left untreated, and the eveness of this depends on the detailing. This project has a deep projecting canopy which could cause un even weathering. Because of this, we specified that the timber was pre-treated with a Sioo coating. This will accelerate the silvering process and give a more even finish across the building and canopy. The boards used here are open jointed with a narrow 75mm coverage giving a fine grain and texture to the overall appearance.

 Siberian Larch treated with Sioo - Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester

Siberian Larch treated with Sioo - Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester

 Siberian Larch treated with Sioo - Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester

Siberian Larch treated with Sioo - Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester

Western Red Cedar (below) is often considered the 'Rolls Royce' of cladding. This is due to its high natural oil content and slow growth which make it a very durable species. For this project we specified it untreated, since the detailing of the zinc roof has minimal overhangs and should ensure even weathering. Its initial colour varies from light orange to dark brown, but it will quickly silver to an even grey. The diagonal cladding boards with a square edged tongue and groove profile ensures a crisp contemporary finish.  

 Untreated Canadian Western Red Cedar - Keynsham nr Bath

Untreated Canadian Western Red Cedar - Keynsham nr Bath

The project below was completed a couple of years ago in Long Ashton and used European Redwood pressure impregnated with a colour tinted treatment. This timber species left untreated would be less durable than Larch or Western Red Cedar, but with it has protection against rot and fungal decay for many years with a manufacturers warranty. It retains its colour much better than natural boards, but has a knottier appearance typical of faster grown softwoods from warmer climes. Here we used a deep batten on board profile which gives the building real character and texture, and forms balustrades to a Juliette balcony, The horizontal boarding to the lower level has mitred corner joints and a simple appearance. at ground level.  

 European Redwood treated with Norclad 'Microshades Brunea'

European Redwood treated with Norclad 'Microshades Brunea'

Project Process Guide for A Collective Custom-Build Group

We recently developed a client's guide to the design process for a project in Bristol where 13 families are seeking to undertake a collective custom build, or 'Co-Build' project together! It is an amazing prospect, and an exciting answer to our housing problems. Having worked on a variety of Cohousing, Community-led, and Community Land Trust housing projects we understand that getting the right design process is just as important, if not more so than the design product. For the uninitiated the design process can seem both exciting, and confusing and complex. We always seek to explain the process in simple terms, and 'design' the meetings and engagement process as well as the building itself! This process of deep collaboration and facilitation is what we seek to provide for client groups.  

 Fold Out Guide Presented to the Resident Group for a Collective Custom Build.

Fold Out Guide Presented to the Resident Group for a Collective Custom Build.

Green Roof to New Self Build Eco House in Dorset - the 'Annual Inspection'

Back in July Sam went back to Chalk Wall House for birthday celebrations. As part of annual maintenance checks he went up on to the green roofs of the house to inspect the rainwater outlets and see how things are growing - 7 years on from planting. The plants for this roof on a new build eco house in Dorchester were Blackdown Horticultural in Somerset. They advised on the best type of system for the two sides of the house; a low pitch north facing roof (top image), and a much steeper south facing (middle image) respectively. The south roof has a system of crates which retain the lean growing medium, comprised largely of crushed brick and pummice! Both systems sit on top of a single ply waterproofing membrane and protective fleece layer. A green roof is great for wildlife, reduces heat loss and heat gains, and provides an acoustic buffer to the noise of the railway lines only metres from the Rammed (Earth) Chalk Walls to the house. The green roof is just one part of making this house a true 'Eco House'; a biomass boiler, rainwater harvesting, solar thermal water heating, triple glazing, wood fibre insulation, lime render, natural paint finishes, and an untreated timber clad timber frame all minimise the environmental impact of this innovative new house, which crucially is also a great place to live!  

 Sedums (drought tolerant succulents) and grasses provide a wildlife haven for insects, bees and invertebrates! Beats an old tiled roof any day!

Sedums (drought tolerant succulents) and grasses provide a wildlife haven for insects, bees and invertebrates! Beats an old tiled roof any day!

 Enjoying the garden on a sunny birthday!

Enjoying the garden on a sunny birthday!

New Build Ecological House in the Greenbelt, South Gloucestershire

We've recently been working on plans to develop a new house in the South Gloucestershire Greenbelt. The site, outside of the development boundary of Coalpit Heath is completely hidden by dense mature woodland and out of all sight from the public realm. Very strict planning policy guidelines control development such as this, and so we have been working in close partnership with a local planning consultancy DLP. Director Paul Jobson has been helping us to develop a planning application strategy that aims to reduce the client's risk and secure a consent under difficult circumstances. The project seeks to redevelop an existing pitched roof garage, and the existing footprint of workshop and green house buildings beyond. A sub-subterranean bedroom wing completes the composition. Green and solar roofs will seek to soften the visual and environmental impact of the new dwelling, whilst features to significantly enhance the ecology of the site will be incorporated into the building and landscape. We took guidance from South Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's brilliant website which helps homeowners develop ways to encourage wildlife to flourish in their gardens. Watch this space.  

Site Visit to Keynsham Timber Frame House Extension

This week we went to visit our project in Keynsham that has been on site for the last 2 months with Bristol Contractors Space Framing with whom we work regularly, owing to their quality of work and communication. The project is being undertaken using a JCT Homeowners Contract without a Contract Administrator. For smaller projects (approx less than £75k) this can often be appropriate - where the builder is known and the client capable and experienced at some project management. Our role during the construction stage is significantly reduced, which can save clients the additional fees associated with having an architect 'project manage' the building process. It isn't for everyone, or every project, but demonstrates Barefoot Architects' flexible approach to projects. In this instance we attended site on a 'call off' basis to help resolve some issues of detail, with Jess advising on the precise setting out location for a large kitchen island, and the floor finishes (diagonal chevron oak in case you're wondering)! A bespoke triangular rooflight over the kitchen sink also required some additional design input on site to assist the builder and the roofing sub contractor.    

Jess talking through the position of the kitchen island with our wonderful clients!

The building form is a cranked dual pitch roof which will be clad in Zinc.  The large picture window frame will be clad with Western Red Cedar on all sides.

The contractor and Sam discussed the weathering details for this unusual triangular rooflight.