I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it. 

William Shakespeare
Manchester, United Kingdom

Thornton Road is a typical byelaw terrace house that lies in Fallowfield, a suburb three miles south of Manchester. Opening out directly onto the front garden and street, the relatively sober facade is articulated by red brick, terracotta decorative features and small window openings that express a clear distinction between a controlled interior environment and the exterior space from which it is isolated.Within, a long and thin footprint featuring two floors of two rooms each, with the entrance hall and stairs to one side. To the rear lies a yard or garden not directly accessed from the public street.

The client – a happily single man – wanted a remodelling concept for his "home for the future". A home that looked to nature, specifically the sun, to not only reduce or eliminate his consumption of fossil fuels for heating and lighting but also to answer his deep desire for a contemporary urban life that is "more satisfying sensually, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually".

To achieve this, Walls Can Be More divided the remodelling process into four distinct phases that took their inspiration from historic and modern Japanese techniques with an emphasis on nature and fluidity. The first was Kyokai: the precise configuration of openings to benefit from both natural light and heat as well as frame a specific element of a landscape. Second was Wabi: the application of natural materials, colours and textures with an "undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered.

Next was Nihon Teien, the careful arrangement of several natural elements - trees, shrubs, grasses, stones, gravel, water and "borrowed" scenery - directly in front of the openings to create a series of natural paintings which are always changing and expressing the beauty and mystery of nature. The fourth, and most important, was the precise positioning of furnishings and fixtures in front of the natural painting to conjure a series of viewing positions that translate into a sense of peace and comfort to those who experience it. 

Residential, Remodelling, Private House


Project Budget


Transform A Whole-House

3000.00 GBP

1 Passive Solar Lighting

1.1 Overview
A cost-effective passive design strategy that harvests free and available sunlight to increase energy efficiency i.e. reduce or eliminate the wasteful consumption of fossil fuels for interior lighting. 
1.2 Toplighting
The north-facing oriel window incorporates a fixed skylight that provides diffused natural lighting throughout the day as well as illumination deep into the adjoining master bedroom.  

1.3 Sidelighting
Large, floor-to-ceiling glazed openings along the north and south facades dramatically optimises direct and diffuse daylight throughout the day. Large sliding interior doors and internal windows are also designed to "borrow" light into spaces that would otherwise suffer from little or no sunlight.. 

1.4 Internal Reflectances
Natural materials with a matte finish combined with a colour range of classic neutral colours reflect the light diffusely. White plastered ceilings reflect daylight down to the area below.

1.5 Shading Devices
A “living curtain” of creepers on the south facade mitigates any overbearing impact of the southern sun, offers privacy as well as generate intriguing patterns which change as the sun moves during the day. Complementing this is are operable fabric shading devices within each space.

1.6 Artificial Lighting
The selection of energy efficient LED’s and dimmable lighting controls.maximize the efficiency and quality of the electrical lighting system.

2 Passive Solar Heating

2.1 Overview
A cost-effective passive design principle in which windows, walls and floors collect, store, reflect and distribute solar gain – free natural heating provided by the sun in winter.  

2.2 Direct gain
During the heating season, large, floor-to-ceiling glazed openings along the south have been optimised to collect natural heat provided by the sun. Large sliding interior doors and internal windows will also "borrow"heat into spaces beyond.  

2.3 Thermal Storage
High mass materials - concrete, ceramic and plaster - flanking the "thermal flux zone" at the south facade store natural heat provided through the glazing absorb and re-radiate it throughout the evening and night.

2.4 Heating Technologies
During the coldest periods, a low profile, energy efficient underfloor floor heating system coupled with a "smart" zonal heating provides supplemental radiant heating to the interior, as and when required. 

3 Fabric First

3.1 Overview
A cost-effective passive design principle that aims to dramatically reduce or eliminates the unnecessary loss - through the building's walls, windows, floors and ceilings.- of free natural heat in winter.

3.2 External
Double glazed sliding windows located throughout the south and triple glazed sliding window located throughout the north meet the highest requirements for passive house standards: the world’s leading standard in energy efficient construction.

3.3 Internal
External [heat-losing] walls and window reveals throughout the building have been fitted with high performance thermal insulated plasterboard. To prevent heat from the underfloor heating system escaping downwards, all internal floors have been fitted with insulation board. 

4 Biophilic Design

4.1 Overview
Studies have demonstrated that human interaction with nature is effective in promoting health by reducing stress and fatigue, increasing productivity, and lowering blood pressure.

4.2 Visual Connection with Nature
A series of natural paintings throughout the house has the potential to reduce stress through lower blood pressure and heart rate; increase positive emotional functioning, improve concentration and recovery rates as well as improve attitude and overall happiness.

4.3 Non-Visual Connection with Nature
Sliding windows that allow the interior to open to the sounds and smells of nature has the power to accelerate physiological and  psychological restoration, reduce cognitive fatigue and help motivation.

4.4 Thermal and Airflow Variability
Generously proportioned openings coupled with "living curtains" and sliding windows that bless the interior with sensory variations in light, sound and temperature can help to improve concentration.

4.5 Presence of Water
Reflection pools purposefully positioned to the front and rear of the building has the ability to elicit a higher restorative response, improve self esteem and mood as well as reduce stress.

4.6 Dynamic and Diffuse Light
e.g. direct sunlight, moonlight and starlight can increase productivity, induce positive moods and impact the circadian system functioning.

4.7 Connection with Natural Systems
i.e. climate and weather patterns, stars and constellations can elicit an experience that is often relaxing, nostalgic, profound or enlightening, and frequently anticipated.

4.8 Material Connection with Nature
A backdrop of natural materials and colours are able to decrease diastolic blood pressure, increase pulse rate and decrease in brain activity.
Bringing the outside inside

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