20 Avondale Road

The owners of some of the most advanced properties in Brighton & Hove will be opening their doors on 25th-28th October for the fifth Eco Open Houses event.

The impressive list of environmentally-friendly buildings includes 15 Lloyd Close, 1a Whichelo Place, Yew Tree House and the Smart House; each of which I have written about already. I visited designer and architect Oliver Heath at 20 Avondale Road in Hove to see why he will be welcoming members of the public into his home over the long weekend.

Beneath insulating render and a sweet chestnut-clad façade exists the remains of a standard post-war property. But the detached house has been modified much. The integral garage was turned into a kitchen. Four bedrooms are now three with a large family bathroom. Wide patio doors have been installed.

Of the many additions, Oliver told me that they have “got to be beautiful and have an inherent level of sustainability in them”. This particularly goes for the eye-catching and hard-wearing Resilica work surface in the kitchen. It was made in Newhaven from a mix of broken glass and resin. Other attractive yet sustainable features include
aluminium guttering and downpipes, Velfac windows, and a wood-burning stove.

Behind the scenes lurk some quite serious gadgets, which are of great appeal to an engineering graduate like me. A heat recovery system cuts down on waste by using warm unwanted air to heat new fresh air from outside. Solar thermal and photovoltaic panels on the roof heat water and generate electricity respectively. As winter approaches and my own home is getting a little chilly, I am reminded just how pleasant it is to live in a house that simply does not get cold, especially when it costs so little to run.

Much is about good old-fashioned common sense – something that Oliver can trace back to his teenage days as a windsurfing instructor when he was inspired by recyclable debris that found its way onto the beach. This means not wasting cash on identikit fixtures and fittings, whilst ensuring that natural resources are not wasted either.

A wall that has been fashioned from larch that came down in Kew Gardens in the 1987 storm, and individual drawers that have been mounted on their bases as shelves, are two exciting examples which must be seen in the flesh to really be appreciated.

To visit this house and others, see www.ecoopenhouses.org.