hetreed ross architects
Paulton Engine - House and Studio
Hanham lane, Paulton, BS39 7PF
Paulton Engine – Reconstructed Eco-house & Straw Bale Studio
Paulton Engine was an overgrown and derelict 1 hectare site in the Paulton Conservation Area, centred on the picturesque but precarious ruins of the historic 19th century Paulton Foundry. Bordered by the Cam Brook to the north and popular footpaths to its other boundaries, the site has a rich ecology with bats, badgers, otters, grass snakes and slow worms. Detailed ecological, archaeological and environmental assessments and proposals were required to achieve planning consent.
Little remained of the two foundry cottages except their Victorian north façade. A new 5 bedroom house was created from the largely rebuilt shell, constructed to Passivhaus principles with high levels of insulation. The south elevation was reconstructed with triple glazed windows shaded in the summer by vines; a new west wing was created on the site of the Foundry’s pattern store and a complete new roof was required. Roof windows to all principal rooms ensure bright, naturally lit spaces.
Upper level decks on 3 sides of this upside-down house enhance enjoyment of the views, provide improved garden connections, and a link to the studio. All floors are new: the ground floors and the first floor dining room stone floor are underfloor heated via a thermal store heated by solar and wood fuel; other first floors, made from site-felled sycamore and ash, have ‘precautionary’ skirting heating which has so far not been needed. Mains water supply is supplemented by a rainwater and spring-fed cistern while sewage is treated on site to river discharge standards.
The 150 square metre straw bale studio is set within the surviving stone walls of the mid-Victorian East Foundry building. A new steel portal frame carries the insulated first floor that serves to tie the old stone walls together and support the cantilevered steel trusses over the studio. Timber purlins and corrugated aluminium roofing overhang the original walls to protect the new larch cladding to the straw-bale studio walls which are lime-rendered internally. With DCRS’s (Dorset Centre for Rural Skills) expert help, contractors NCBR built the straw-bale walls in 2 days despite no previous experience. A kitchenette, shower and wcs allow for multiple uses.
The 12KWp PV array by 1 World Solar is combined with rooflights to the south pitch and provides a surplus of power to achieve zero carbon operation for the site as a whole.
Alternative accommodation for the bats in reroofed pigsties along with urgent repairs to the ruins were completed in 2013. The studio was complete in 2014 and the house finally completed in 2018.
Structural engineers: Rexon Day Consulting
Strawbale build consultant: Rob Buckley, Dorset Centre for Rural Skills
Ecologists: Simecology, Avon Wildlife Trust, Nicholas Pearson Associates
Archaeologist: Mike Chapman
Main contractor: Nigel Coles Building and Renovation Ltd
Groundworks: Nigel and Joe Hitchens
Steel frame contractor: Richard Wood Engineering
PV installer: 1 World Solar