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Local Materials, Lovely Views And No Need For Central Heating

Architect Kirsty Maguire explains the thinking behind the Pullens’ house. 

Listening to John and Karen’s ideas and dreams for a new house at the start of the project, they kept returning to the connection with the surrounding landscape, feelings of light and spaciousness and creating a warm and comfortable eco home. 

They loved their current farmhouse home and were keen to create something with the same feeling of homeliness but without the challenges and costs of living in a traditional stone house. We explored how best to do this – creating a space they love to be in as well as the technical side of comfort and energy use. 

We worked with the Passivhaus standard as a tried and tested tool to focus on the building fabric for enjoyment of the spaces, low maintenance and good return on investment. This reduces the energy use to a minimum, removing the need for conventional heating systems and ensuring energy bills are tiny while keeping comfortable and cosy all year. 

In turn, any renewables that are installed are small scale, reducing capital cost and upkeep. Using the Passivhaus modelling software allowed the clients control over specification and budget choices too. 

The Pullens’ house, located on a rural site a few miles from the Moray coast, is a fresh take on the traditional farmhouse. Designed to reflect the massing and materials of local buildings, it opens up for modern living to the light and views across the surrounding farmland. 

The layout is compact yet feels light and spacious due to the long views and large volumes inside the home. The double height sitting room opens on to the kitchen and dining room with a seating area above. It is also designed to be extended in the future if required. Materials were chosen to minimise environmental impact, tie in with the landscape, give excellent performance and reduce or eliminate the use of toxic materials.

The house has been built from, clad in and is powered by wood. The cladding and fuel are Scottish timber with the cladding grown, felled and milled a mile or so up the road. Bringing all these layers to the design creates a high quality building and, as John says, why would you want anything else?