Eco Open Houses 2013

Hot on the heals of Artists Open Houses is Eco Open Houses – where architecture fans don’t have to pretend to be into art to look around interesting buildings.

The purpose of the annual event, which spans two weekends in June, is to demonstrate the advantages of eco buildings to the public and share best practice amongst those who are already in the know. There are 21 properties on the list this year, several of which I have written about previously, including 15 Lloyd Close.

Tucked away in leafy Hove Park, and built over what was the rear of the rear garden of a large house on Shirley Road, 15 Lloyd Close is the futuristic home of architect Mark Pellant. I actually first visited when it was still under construction but too late to see its timber frame.

There is a certain purity to this house whereby the eco theme runs through everything, including the delicious garden. Some of my favourite plants feature including silver birch and euphorbia. It was actually this exact garden that inspired me to take up gardening as a hobby. I recall discussing the various fruit trees just after they had been planted (apple, pear and plum if I remember correctly). As one might expect, there is a huge tank beneath the patio that collects rain water for the toilets and washing machine.

The zinc roof neatly incorporates an array of 15 solar panels – 12 photovoltaic for electricity and 3 solar thermal for the heating. When I last visited, efficiency figures weren’t available as the buildings was still in its first year. Mark just told me that the house now actually makes him money. He sells £1,500 of electricity to the grid each year and takes just £500 out (plus £500 on pellets for the boiler).

15 Lloyd Close is perhaps my favourite of the 21 houses. To be avoided though is the incredibly unwelcoming 148 Hartington Road which is one of those dreary white boxes. It’s at the top of a massive hill and subject to erratic opening times.

In the past, I have written about the Smart House on Ditchling Road by Alan Phillips Architects, 20 Avondale Road by Oliver Heath, Yew Tree House by Bill Dunster and 40 Varndean Gardens by BBM. I can’t recommend each of these enough.

Eco Open Houses takes place on the weekends of 15th/16th and 22nd/23rd June. See www.ecoopenhouses.org.