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The reimagining of a pre-fabricated timber house

In the picturesque rural landscape of Twyford, Hampshire, stood a modest home awaiting transformation. The owners sought not just an expansion but a sustainable upgrade, a challenge readily embraced by Studio BAD. Their approach was unconventional yet deeply rooted in sustainability, aiming to minimize the carbon footprint of the project while maximizing the utilization of existing resources.

 The project's cornerstone was the retention and reimagining of the existing prefabricated timber frame and concrete foundations. The existing building was a single storey detached house built by Colt Houses (W.H. COLT SON & CO. LTD) in the mid-20th Century, using their prefabricated panel system. The outer walls, and internal partitions are formed of framed wall panels 2362 mm x 1150 mm (7’9” x 3’ 9”) constructed of 25 mm x 70 mm (1” x 2¾”) timber studs @ 15” c/c. All outer wall panels are bolted to 2¾” stanchions. Rather than resorting to extensive demolition, the design team opted for a strategy that honoured the home's history while reducing waste—a testament to their commitment to sustainability. This decision not only minimised embodied carbon but also preserved the essence of the original structure. Where existing studwork was retained, its load-carrying capacity was increased through the provision of additional plywood sheathing board, and a series of supplementary timber battens/rails.


With the goal of accommodating the needs of a growing family, the design focused on modest extensions that maintained the existing mass and form of the home. The interior layout underwent a thoughtful reconfiguration to align with contemporary family living standards. The ground floor was ingeniously expanded to enhance the open-plan living area, fostering better connectivity with the garden—a harmonious blend of indoor-outdoor living.


One of the project's standout features was the innovative dormer windows, designed at unique angles to mitigate any privacy concerns with neighbouring properties while maximizing natural light and views. This inventive solution exemplified the design team’s meticulous attention to both functionality and aesthetics.

 Energy efficiency was at the forefront of the design philosophy. Upgraded thermal cladding, windows, and doors were strategically incorporated to enhance insulation and harness natural light. The introduction of a raised roofline not only provided additional space but also allowed for additional insulation, improving the thermal performance, and ensuring a comfortable living environment year-round.


A striking addition to the south side of the home came in the form of an external colonnade—a dual-purpose feature designed to mitigate overheating in summer while extending outdoor living opportunities for the homeowners. This thoughtful integration of sustainable elements further underscored the project's commitment to holistic design.


Challenges abound in renovating an unconventional structure with minimal additional capacity. Through a combination of upgraded load-bearing timber construction and plywood stress skins, the alterations were made with minimal steelwork. The incorporation of perimeter timber shear walls and plywood diaphragms within the new roof structure ensured both stability and sustainability—a testament to the ingenuity of the design team.


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