The Channel 4 architectural commentator continues his funding appeal for The House that Kevin Built.
15 Aug 2013
The house of the future that captivated millions of TV viewers is to be rebuilt at the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts. The House that Kevin Built was constructed live on TV in six days in 2008 for Channel 4’s Grand Designs Live and was heralded as the UK’s first low-energy prefabricated house made from eco-friendly materials.
The house was later dismantled but the concept is being reborn in the courtyard of the university’s Faculty of Arts in Grand Parade, Brighton.
Kevin McCloud, the British designer who presented the TV programme, is backing the idea along with Brighton & Hove City Council and the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the construction industry’s research and consultancy organisation. In an article for Grand Designs Magazine, Kevin writes:
If you made it to Grand Designs Live at ExCeL in London in the spring of 2008, you will have been greeted by the sight of my house.Thousands of you tramped round it. I slept there during the exhibition, in fact, spending my 49th birthday there. It wasn't, of course, the house where I spend the bulk of my time and which is full of my detritus. It was the house that I built, admittedly with the help of around 73 muscular adults, in just six days as an exemplar project of where domestic house building might go. Where house building has actually since gone is, of course, down the pan, although there are glimmers of activity on odd building sites around the UK, including my own in Swindon, where the 42 homes we're building are in no small way inspired by the ideas invested in The House That Kevin Built.
The house came down, sadly, as it was there only for the duration of the exhibition, but being a component-built project it was always intended
that it might go somewhere else. The exciting news is that it now has a new home in Brighton where we're hoping to reincarnate it as a project for the University. The House That Kevin Rebuilt is going to fit in the quadrangle of the Faculty of Arts in Grand Parade, which is a lump-of Hemcrete's-throw away from the Royal Pavilion, so it'll be available to see for anyone in the towncentre.
It will also provide a working laboratory for researchers to monitor the building' s performance, carbon footprint and evolution. Different faculties will be involved and the building adapted and furnished by students. I' m naturally expecting that walls constructed from rammed earth and straw bales will be decorated by Athena posters of tennis girls scratching their bottoms and the water-filled thermal mass room divider made out of recycled plastic bottles will be replaced by one fabricated from lager cans.
In truth, the house won't be low carbon, nor zero carbon, but in fact in hefty carbon credit, because the structure captures more carbon than it uses, plus it cuts out waste. It will also be studded with sensors and monitored by the Building Research Establishment. Professor Stuart Laing of the University of Brighton is very excited about all this because he sees the value of the project extending beyond research into the built environment of Brighton, and wants to see the building as a meeting venue for youth clubs, conferences and exhibitions. Duncan Baker Brown, the architect of the house, is extremely excited because he loves building things and is passionate about finding beautiful solutions to problems thrown up by climate change . I'm excited because despite the government's target of 2016 as the year when we construct nothing but zero-carbon dwellings, we don't yet have anything like enough information about how ecohomes perform and how well natural materials contribute to reducing the environmental footprint of construction which by 2025 will otherwise be responsible for about one fifth of all greenhouse gases.
Meantime, and there isn't much time,we need to raise £300,000 to reconstruct the building.We've got the planning permission and the site. We've got the will and we've got the backing of suppliers and some generous gifts of time and materials from the construction industry, so we're well on the way. Mercifully, all donations to the university are eligible for both GiftAid and the government's matched funding scheme; for every £2 we receive in philanthropic donations we can claim an additional £1 from the government. With both Gift Aid and matched funding, every pound we receive is worth nearly twice as much to the university, at no extra cost to our supporters.
“It will be for university and community use as an experimental venue for research, student workshops, conferences, exhibitions and events that would draw the city and the university together around a shared concern for a more sustainable city.
"This is an exciting project that we hope will become an example for sustainable construction around the UK and one that will produce far-reaching benefits for the university and the community as a whole. If all goes to plan, work on building the house could begin next Easter.”
Duncan Baker Brown said: “As a university, we are a signatory to the 10-10 campaign to reduce carbon emissions by 10 per cent and we have also set a target to reduce our overall emissions by 50 per cent in five years – this project will act as a beacon to show how these kinds of reductions can be achieved.”