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The Houl, Dumfries and Galloway, by Simon Winstanley Architects

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Sustainability in practice: This single-storey longhouse embodies our belief in low energy consumption, high levels of insulation, and on-site electricity generation

The house is sited in a natural concave of hillside facing west to enjoy the spectacular view of the river Ken valley and the Rhinns of Kells hills beyond.

It embodies our current thinking about the design of the contemporary house - very low energy consumption (net zero carbon in this case) using very high levels of insulation, minimising air infiltration, heating by air-source heat pump, whole-house heat recovery ventilation, and on-site generation of electricity by wind turbine.

The Houl is a single-storey longhouse, with all the principal rooms addressing the view and the ancillary service spaces to the rear.


The slope of the roof of the main living accommodation follows the slope of the hillside, with the roof of the ancillary areas meeting the main roof at a shallower angle to allow morning sunlight to penetrate the house through clerestory windows.

The entrance is sited on the north-east side under cover of the roof, to provide shelter from the prevailing wind.

The construction uses steel and timber frame with walls clad in naturally weathered silver grey cedar, triple-glazed windows, and the roof is finished with pre-weathered standing-seam zinc.

Simon Winstanley


Simon Winstanley Architects has been in practice since 1983 and specialises in contemporary, energy-conscious design. ‘We are passionate about the places we live and work in, aiming to lift people’s spirits through the enjoyment of a place while making it protective, responsive and environmentally sound.’


Start on site October 2008
Contract duration 15 months
Gross internal floor area 182m2 or 245m² (including car-port and storage)
Form of contract Scottish Minor Works
Total cost £306,000
Cost per square metre £1,250 (including car-port and storage)
Client Mr and Mrs Simon Winstanley
Architect Simon Winstanley Architects
Structural engineer Asher Associates
M&E consultant None
Quantity surveyor None
Landscape consultant Paterson Landscape
Project manager Simon Winstanley
Main contractor 3b Construction
CDM co-ordinator None
Approved building inspector None
Annual co2 emissions 0.6kg/m²/year
On-site energy generation 32%
U-value averages Walls 0.15W/m2K Windows 0.7W/m²K Ground floor 0.17W/m2K
Mains water consumption None. Water supply from bore

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