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Top 10—The Best UK Eco-Houses

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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With eco-friendly design becoming hugely popular and sustainability becoming a real concern, we thought it was time to celebrate the innovators that have already sought to stop being part of the global problem and start making strides towards a greener future. We're talking, of course, about those that have commissioned and designed eco-houses!

If you're picturing nothing but hobbit houses and tree shacks, get them out of your mind right now, as we are going to show you the most stylish and future-proofed homes out there that are making sustainable living look so easy that it's a wonder that we aren't all doing it already. 

10. Courtyard House

Courtyard House  -  East Dulwich:  Terrace by Designcubed
Designcubed

Courtyard House — East Dulwich

Designcubed

A full-on eco-house in central London? Why not?! What's more, it will be astounding to look at! All that lovely wood makes this terrific home as beautiful as it is sustainable and what an accomplishment that is!

The design team explain this as, A single-storey courtyard house constructed on a constrained brown-field sloping site, built out to the perimeter whilst providing light and private views to the habitable rooms and avoiding overlooking of the surrounding properties.

Imagine the luxury of not being overlooked in London and knowing you are helping the environment too… what a way to start out top 10 eco-houses list!

9. The Pavillion Eco-House

E2 PAVILION ECO HOUSE, BLACKHEATH:  Houses by E2 Architecture + Interiors
E2 Architecture + Interiors

E2 PAVILION ECO HOUSE, BLACKHEATH

E2 Architecture + Interiors

The Pavilion is located adjacent to Grade II listed building The Pagoda, designed by William Chambers. With a brief to make the most energy efficient and contemporary house on a site that is overshadowed for half the day by large trees with root protection zones on all sides, this project was a challenge from the start, in every way. This low-carbon contemporary home includes sustainable features such as passive solar design, earth sheltered lower ground, green roofs and a natural swimming pool and will achieve Level 5 on the Code for Sustainable Homes.’

There's no arguing with those eco-credentials but it's the design that E2 Architecture created that has really astounded us. Blink and you'd almost miss it, but once you've noticed it, you can't ever stop coveting! 

8. The Boat House

AR Design Studio- The Boat House:  Houses by AR Design Studio
AR Design Studio

AR Design Studio- The Boat House

AR Design Studio

The design team in charge of this project said, ’The Boathouse was conceived to serve as a tranquil retreat away from the main house – an 18th century converted barn. The concept was that it should float over the lake and provide a quiet hide-away with calming views over the still water. The building is situated in the beautiful Cotswolds, within the Lower Mill Estate, and consists of a 4-legged steel frame structure sitting on concrete piles sunk into the lake bed. The construction and appearance is highly contemporary, but the use of traditional materials such as neutral oak and slate acknowledges its rural setting.’

With efficient glazing and a woodburner in place, this retreat is perfectly able to regulate itself come warm or cold weather and we think it is such a lovely little addition to a traditional site.

7. Pond House Passive House

Pond House_Passive House (Passivhaus):  Houses by Forrester Architects
Forrester Architects

Pond House_Passive House (Passivhaus)

Forrester Architects

Simply stunning, this amazing Passive House was designed and built in full compliance with a client brief that ensured the eco-nature of the home was a top priority. 

The design team reveals, ’Its general arrangement has been designed to benefit from the abundance of readily available natural resources; natural light, passive solar gains and a simple building form are all drawn from the local environment. A number of key factors were instrumental in establishing a brief for the new home. From the outset the client was keen to provide an environmentally responsive and sustainably designed solution with the garden pond to remain a central feature.’

With it's unusual contours and shapes, this was a sure-fire inclusion in our top 10 eco-houses list, but knowing just how important it was that the home be sustainable and connected to its surroundings really confirms that we were right to love it!

6. Schoolmasters Eco-House

Schoolmasters eco house:  Houses by build different
build different

Schoolmasters eco house

build different

We couldn't bring you our top 10 eco-houses list without looking at this beautiful home, found in Scotland. The modular nature of the build ensures aesthetic values are high, but it's the green credentials that are really impressive!

The single storey house utilises Passivhaus design principals and renewable technologies to ensure lower running costs. The house is powered by a 5.5kw solar PV array and a biomass stove. A solar switch diverts any export electricity to heat the 500 litre water store. The pellet stove provides any additional heat that may be required in winter. Adopting a ‘fabric first’ approach, the super insulated, airtight structure features south facing triple glazed windows and doors. Mechanical ventilation heat recovery recycles and keeps the internal air fresh and warm. Tyvek reflective membranes help keep heat in the building.

5. M House

Eco-houses always seek to get the best value from their designs and look to not only support sustainable construction, but also longevity. Once an eco-house is built, it should serve to be as self-perpetuating as possible and with careful heating, power and insulation plans put into practice this is simple to achieve.

We love this open plan home that makes light work of ticking all the eco-boxes and thanks to super insulation and a woodburner, the impact of running it will be far less than standard homes. The view is making us desperate to get off-grid too!

4. Camusdarach Sands House

House At Camusdarach Sands Main Elevation:  Houses by Raw Architecture Workshop
Raw Architecture Workshop

House At Camusdarach Sands Main Elevation

Raw Architecture Workshop

Found in Orkney, this spectacular house was always going to be in our top 10 eco-houses list and we love being able to revisit it to take in the splendour again! Just the drama of that black cladding and exposed concrete is making us fall in love with the property all over again!

The design team relate that, The clients, a young couple already living and working in this isolated location, were keen that we develop the proposals to capture the spectacular sun rise views over the mountains and sun set behind the islands. Given the topography of the site our early response was to locate the living spaces on the upper portion of the plot, with sleeping accommodation and entry level stacked below. Environmental considerations vary in scale and type, from building position and orientation, local labour, skills and materials, to the inclusion of an air source heat pump and super insulation to provide a U-Value of 0.15 [W/m2k] to walls and roof.

If there was room for us, we'd be asking to move in here in a heartbeat!

3. Limpley Stoke Eco-House

​Limpley Stoke Eco House:   by Hewitt Studios
Hewitt Studios

​Limpley Stoke Eco House

Hewitt Studios

A really unusual site meant that this house was designed to fit perfectly, not adapt it in any way.

The design team says, ’The building form derives from the environmental constraints of the site, running approximately east-west along its contours. The roof of the upper storey slopes away from the hillside, preserving the views of the houses behind and reducing the visible height from across the valley. The dwelling was designed with best sustainable practice in mind, using a combination of active and passive sustainable technologies: Carbon Sequestering Materials, chiefly timber; were chosen as the primary structure and cladding. Straw Insulation; gives excellent breathability, thermal inertia and insulation, combined with negative embodied carbon.’

Who says that eco-houses have to be odd looking? We think this is the epitome of contemporary chic and the fact that it will serve to protect our environment for years to come only makes it more appealing!

2. Bourne Lane Eco-House

Rear elevation of ​Bourne Lane eco-house in Kent at twilight:  Houses by Nash Baker Architects Ltd
Nash Baker Architects Ltd

Rear elevation of ​Bourne Lane eco-house in Kent at twilight

Nash Baker Architects Ltd

’This modern eco-house by Nash Baker Architects is conceived as a contemporary interpretation of the Kentish barn style with characteristic black timber cladding, the bold structure nestles into the surrounding landscape with consideration for the area’s local heritage through the use of high quality, locally sourced materials.’

Despite having been designed with local heritage in mind, we love that this new build offers sustainability and hope for the future. Modest and outlandish all at once, this is one of our favourite eco-houses for good reason and we think the design team perfectly captured the requisite balance between aesthetics and awareness. 

1. Meadowview

Modern design is really breathtaking, isn't it? When you realise that it can contribute to a better tomorrow as well, you know that we have hit on something truly special.

We love this sustainable home, which is located on the edge of a ribbon development village in rural Bedfordshire. The location is truly stunning, with the house surrounded by trees, fields and greenery for as far as the eye can see. The property blends in with its surroundings and has been designed to appear as though it's floating over the hedgerows.

The smooth chestnut clad exterior is modern yet respectful of the surroundings and the large windows, which wrap around the lower floor, blur the barrier between indoors and out, creating a harmony between domestic and natural spaces.

Simply stunning and the perfect home to end our top 10 eco-houses list with!

For more Top 10 fun, take a look at this Ideabook: Top 10—The Best Eccentric British Homes. If different and eye-catching are for you, we think you'll be inspired!

Did we miss out a house that has inspired you? Tell us which of these you loved the most!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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