Walking along to a remote country road junction I arrive at the same time as a man pushing a bike. We start to chat and it turns out that he teaches architecture at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales and is building his own eco-home. Having got a puncture a few miles back after a day cycling around environmental buildings he’s walking to his home village of Belford, where I’m also headed. Well met indeed.
Duncan Roberts and his partner Mary Kelly are both architects and have been slowly building their own wooden home without credit by saving as they go. It’s been a long process of learning and development, and they share their learning with others.
The more thermal mass (weight that can absorb heat) a building has, the more it will average out the temperature around it. For example, in a cave underground in England the temperature is an average of the yearly temperatures – around 10 degrees C. An earth shelter takes advantage of this by having the building partially buried in the earth or with earth mounds up the sides.
Earth shelters are just one of the types of buildings that Idp Search architects produce but as well as new builds they crucially also do retrofitting – altering an existing building to make it less wasteful. One project they have been using is called Greening the Box. You can see an example of their work which is in High Wycombe.