Clay Fields, Elmswell, Suffolk

Originally known as the Three Gardens project, this is a 26-home development located in the village of Elmswell in Suffolk, built for Orwell Housing Association. It comprises 13 two-bed and nine three-bed houses plus four one-bed flats.

Construction Features
Butterfly-wing-shaped building design maximizes solar gain in house by avoiding solar mask. Sustainable construction techniques have added to the eco-credentials of this development. The frame is constructed from timber, and the walls are then created by spraying “hempcrete” (hemp and lime mix) onto the wooden formwork. Red cedar shingles and cladding are also used. The building fabric has a high thermal performance (Wall U-value = 0.25W/m2.K) and air tightness improved by 50% against building regulation.
The biodiversity of the site has been improved by creating three communal gardens: an apple orchard, wild flower meadow and allotment, plus a larger area of public open space. Swales (open, marshy drains) are used for surface run-off water and also provide a habitat for wildlife, which also benefits from the green roofs on four of the buildings. Localised pollution has been reduced by allowing cars to enter the site, but not drive through.

Technologies Employed
  • Woodchip fired, biomass community heating network providing heating and hot water.
  • Controlled mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
  • 200m2 of DIADEM® green roofing
  • Sheeps wool insulation

Awards and Achievements
The development has received a number of awards in recognition of its sustainable design, including Project Award in the 2007 Housing Design Awards, RIBA Award Winner 2009 and Housing Design Futureproof Award 2009, and has been shortlisted for many others. It also has an EcoHomes "Excellent" rating. Page last updated: 08 September 2010
The content of this website reflects the author’s views. the Environment Centre (tEC) and the INTERREG IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme Authorities accept no liability for the accuracy of the claims made and any use that may be made of the information contained therein.