Crossway (Using Velux Sunpipes to bring the outdoors in)!

Denovo Design

Crossway (Using Velux Sunpipes to bring the outdoors in)!
Widnes, Halton, Cheshire

The objective of the design, on behalf of Client, Halton Housing Trust, was to achieve a diverse mix of quality, affordable dwellings, comprising 6 single occupancy flats, 4 family houses, and 2 bungalows with flexibility for the elderly/disabled.

Of prefabricated timber frame construction, for speed and sustainability, the scheme was designed to be of high quality construction, maximising sustainable features to save resources and minimise household bills, providing both short term and longer term benefits for the client and residents, and the planet of course!

Sustainable features include sun pipes, water saving products, high efficiency gas boilers, and positive pressure ventilation systems to provide good air quality. Externally, swift bricks are permanently integrated into the external structure to provide nesting habitat for this dwindling species, whilst statement green ivy boundary screens will provide a pleasant and uplifting outlook, along with instant, natural habitat for small birds and insects.

To minimise/mitigate potential for flooding, a large underground water retention tank, has been installed. This will store any extra volume, during periods of excessive rainfall, preventing overflow - gradually releasing the water into the existing drainage system at a measured rate, once the storm subsides.

The practice is committed to championing inclusion of environmental and sustainable specifications, having experienced, time after time, how such products really make a difference to ‘quality of life’, providing benefits for the residents, and also for the wider community with neighbourhood uplift.


The project ran seamlessly throughout, with highly productive and cordial design team relationships, and what could only be described as an ‘absolutely amazing’ relationship between the main contractor and the local residents, enabling any contingencies/concerns to be dealt with smoothly. Indeed, this project is true testimony to what can be achieved with good collaborative teamwork, and commitment towards the same objectives and goals.

The full benefit of sustainable design can now be felt by the residents, with, for example, the impact of the sun tunnels and the immediate, positive feedback already auguring well for the future in terms of ‘inspirational places to live’! The underground flood prevention system will give the residents peace of mind by protecting their homes in increasingly extreme climatic conditions.

There has been Zero waste.

The completed scheme of diverse properties, arranged to maximise open space, with minimum overlooking, will provide light and spacious, quality accommodation, whilst specifically addressing the needs of the local community. Towards the end of the construction phase, one of the bungalows was allocated to a physically disabled resident. Already designed to LifeTime Homes criteria, only one minor adaptation was, therefore, required and was relatively straightforward to achieve.

Overall, the scheme is regarded by the practice as being one of its most holistically, environmentally, sustainable to date, encompassing key elements of good design, good teamwork and excellent execution.

“The Crossways Development has been recognised for its design and environmentally innovative features, such as sun pipes disguised as old fashioned chimney pots, which brings natural light into the house. The development also includes living green fences, which enhance the garden and are maintenance free. The Crossway Development properties are also very energy efficient, with mechanical ventilation systems keeping fresh air flowing throughout the homes, helping to alleviate fuel poverty. These innovative features were achieved by enlisting the help of Architect’s from Denovo Design, and WYG who were the Trust’s Cost Consultants who managed the Crossways scheme on the Trust’s behalf”.
Halton Housing Trust comment on their website about Crossways’ being recognised with an International Green Apple Award for Built Environment 2017