A unique and eco-friendly new build home in the stunning North Devon countryside

When the owners of Greenwood decided to build their own home, a simple and highly functional approach to design was top of their wishlist. They needed their home to be healthy, sustainable, and sympathetic to the external environment. 

Greenwood self-build home exterior
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Case Study: Greenwood, North Devon

They appointed Gale & Snowden, an architect practice renowned for their commitment to unifying elegant architecture with low energy principles, to design their remarkable energy efficient house in the North Devon countryside.

Originally a single storey dwelling, Greenwood was redesigned to become a holistic building capable of maximising space and a connection to nature, enhancing energy efficiency, and delivering sustainable on-site fuel and food provisions.

Built into the south facing bank of a valley using natural materials and finishes, the home leverages many of the site’s assets to provide a wealth of aesthetic, energy efficiency, and sustainability benefits. The home maximises both daylight and the panoramic countryside views through a combination of VELUX roof windows, large glazed gables and vertical windows.

The home boasts impressive eco credentials too, generating its own fuel and power from coppiced wood, solar thermal and PV panels, while its garden provides a sustainable source of food for the owners.

Inside, a spectacular open plan kitchen-diner-living space was designed with double height volumes, voids and influxes of natural light to introduce openness and a sense of spaciousness throughout the home. The VELUX roof windows allow the owners to control the indoor climate through passive cooling from natural ventilation and passive heating from solar gains.

Gale & Snowden Director Ian Snowden said, “Through the use of VELUX roof windows, we flooded the property with natural daylight and provided strong links between the interior and exterior spaces, allowing the beautiful North Devon setting to enhance the experience of residing within Greenwood. The use of natural and healthy building materials predominates the property and reinforces the client’s desire for closeness to nature and simplicity in lifestyle.”

Architects: Gale & Snowden


A modern cottage at one with the Scottish countryside

A dilapidated dwelling makes way for a new build home that takes advantage of stunning panoramic views.

Spring cottage exterior with multiple combination VELUX roof windows
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Case Study: Spring Cottage, Aberdeenshire

Spring Cottage nestles along a narrow, wooded, east facing slope in Aberdeenshire, surrounded by breathtaking panoramic views. Originally home to a small dilapidated dwelling, the owners chose to remove it and build a completely new private home that responds to the existing site’s topography, has a strong connection to the natural environment and maximises the natural sources of light and fresh air.

They chose architects Covell Matthews to design the new home over the footprint of the original house. This not only minimised the impact on the natural landscape but also made the most of the spectacular rural and sea views beyond.

The design features striking mono-pitch roof that reflects the sloping topography of the site and provides an excellent opportunity for the introduction of daylight through fenestration.

“Key environmental considerations for Spring Cottage included energy efficiency, ventilation, and natural lighting,” the Covell Matthews team explained. “The owners’ objective was to achieve a high-performance building which maximised energy efficiency and deliver a space that would enrich their lives through daylight and fresh air.”

Eighteen pitched VELUX roof windows were installed on the mono-pitched roof to maximise the amount of daylight entering the living space and upper floor areas. They were strategically positioned to respond to the east facing orientation, flooding the internal space with natural light and providing exceptional outward looking views.

Impressed by the meaningful connection to the natural surrounding environment, the owners said, “The VELUX roof window system is one of the most significant achievements of the design. It has given us a powerful connection to the world outside and helped us form a genuine relationship with our home’s beautiful location.”

It was also the aspiration of the designers that optimised daylighting would work alongside the building’s other energy systems – heat recovery, air source heat pump and insulation – and combine to provide an internal environment that would facilitate excellent performance and enhanced energy efficiency. The result is a unique, stylish home that works in harmony with its surroundings.

Architects : Covell Matthews Architects


New build family home that brings the outside in

Part of a pioneering residential development, Farm View is a family dwelling that balances privacy with open, spacious interiors.

Farmview building exterior VELUX roof windows in a new build family home
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Case Study: Farm View, West Midlands

When building your own home in a suburban setting, it can be challenging to balance the need for privacy with a desire for an open, spacious design. But this challenge has been met at Farm View, a family dwelling in Stoke-on-Trent. Farm View is one of six building plots formed as part of a pioneering residential development and designed to reflect the owner's individual needs and lifestyles.

The owners wanted a balance between privacy from neighbouring houses and an open connection to the outside world. To achieve this, architects Design21 opted for a simple, ordered form made from a mix of variable-sized glazing, timber feature panels, and brickwork.

The modest front elevation displays six vertical windows and a large porch area at the entrance, which provides the occupants with discreet views outside and a sense of privacy. Conversely, the south-west rear elevation enjoys generous areas of full height glazing, which connects the external garden with the internal space.

To enhance the home’s connection with daylight and the outside world, the Farm View has an open plan layout on both the upper and lower floors, which allows the double height glazed gallery and a range of VELUX roof windows to bathe the entire space with natural daylight.

Given the open ceiling space is formed by sloping angles, the VELUX roof windows were key to providing excellent access to natural ventilation. Their position facilitates greater air circulation, especially on those long summer days, and their use maintains the dwelling’s need for privacy. The owners’ also opted to enrich their experience of daylight and fresh air by choosing to install VELUX INTEGRA® roof windows –– offering them full control of their indoor climate, comfort and home security.

Paul Adams, principal designer for Design 21, said, “The vision for Farm View was focused on providing the owners with a responsive dwelling that balanced privacy with openness. It was a challenging brief, but the use of VELUX roof windows allowed us to bring the outside in without compromising the family’s suburban privacy.”

Architects: Design 21 Architecture


A bright and contemporary bespoke build by the Cornish seaside

When Tim and Sarah spotted a bungalow for sale in their favourite Cornish seaside spot, they knew they had to have it. They’d visited the site many times over the years with their two children. But their vision of a forever home by the sea did not include the bungalow itself.

exterior of Clearwater self-build project in Cornwall
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Case study: Clearwater, Cornwall

After purchasing the St Mawes property, they knocked it down and decided to build their own home. They enlisted Märraum Architects to design a distinct and breathtaking family house that would maximise the use of natural daylight, space and orientation and reflect their passion for design.

The site posed a sensitive challenge to the architects. Adam Laskey, project architect for Märraum, explained, “The site fell within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and bordered a conservation area. This made it more challenging to design a contemporary building and, unfortunately, our initial proposals met some local resistance.”

During the planning decision process, Märraum had to reduce the external glazing which ultimately affected how the building received light and provided views out. This made the roof windows a hugely important element in the design. To overcome these challenges, Märraum included wide aspect windows alongside an intricately designed roof window system, which helped draw in and capture more natural light in the upper storey. This created a lofty and expansive space while minimising intrusion on the surrounding dwellings.

With the installation of 11 VELUX roof windows, the owners benefited from additional daylight in the centre of the building and enhanced air circulation, affording them control of the indoor climate. The roof windows were also fitted with the innovative VELUX INTEGRA® roof window system.

The use of VELUX roof windows in the project gave the family an enhanced perception of height. Due to planning restrictions, the architects needed to keep the roofline low. The living space has eaves as low as 1.5m, so the addition of roof windows provided expansive views of the sky above, which significantly increased the feeling of height and influx of light within the room.

Overall, Clearwater is an incredibly social building, designed to maximise space through natural light without losing its intimate family atmosphere. Through the combination of VELUX roof windows and full height glazed door openings on the gables, the home feels spacious and light, and makes the most of the Cornish seaside views. Sarah said, “’The house is just lovely, I can't tell you how much we are enjoying living here!’’

Architects: Märraum Architects