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· Colin Rice

Going with the flow

Colin Rice shares the inspiration behind his self-build project that has been shortlisted for an ASBP Award.

The spirit of self-build in the office lives on. Ted Cullinan famously built his house in Camden Mews over two or three years of weekends in the early 1960s, using rejected materials from his work with Denys Lasdun. In July 2016, I started working part-time to build a free-standing annexe to my holiday shack in Happisburgh, Norfolk, and – now complete - it has just been shortlisted for an ASBP Award. Organised by the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, the ASBP Awards recognise construction projects that exemplify excellence in sustainability through their products, design and delivery. 

It’s a totally handmade creation, using second hand or up-cycled materials where possible. Visitors to our old office (pre 2012) will recognize the Douglas Fir toilet partitions with their ingenious Barbican handrinse basins, the astonishing lightweight cubicle door (designed and made by Mary-Lou Arscott) adapted and revitalized as a sliding bedroom door. Foundations have minimal embodied carbon: simply railway sleepers sitting on a trench filled with compacted aggregate (engineered by Structuremode). 

A toilet door from our former office is bought back to life with some sugar soap, a good sand and some Danish Oil and repurposed as a sliding panel to the bedroom.

Assembly details

The walls and roof are designed with breathing construction, insulated with wood-fibre sheathing and recycled newspaper. They are highly air-tight but allow moisture to pass through freely without damaging accumulation. Windows are stepped edge double glazed units, fixed directly to a deep plywood box, with an opening shutter to one side. Rainwater simply runs off, avoiding the need for maintenance of  seals or glazing beads.

Designed to be adjustable and easily demountable, an old fridge door finds a new use as a built in table.

The result is a cosy, light and airy retreat, and a demonstration that ‘going with the flow’ can make elegant, economical and sustainable buildings.

Green Tiles Annexe

Project facts:

  • Floor area: 29sqm
  • Cost: £24,800 (including fees, VAT and fitting out)
  • Embodied carbon: 5.5 tonnes

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