Words by Rebecca Hawkey
As saving our planet becomes the paramount focus of the next generation, ARK sustainable architecture is leading the way when it comes to eco-friendly homes.
Here in Cornwall, we are granted some of the most beautiful vistas in the world. The rolling green hills dotted with sheep and cattle, the golden sand beaches that stretch for miles along the coast, the quaint cobbled fishing villages that used to be the backbone of our community. We really do have it all. It’s no wonder then that those who come to settle here in the Duchy, to put roots down, want to do so in a home that complements its stunning topography, a home that works with the land rather than against it. That is where ARK sustainable architecture comes in.
ARK is a Cornwall-based, design-led architectural practice led by founder Lee Crease. Lee has over 30 years’ experience in this industry, and built ARK with the goal of delivering sustainable architectural design solutions to this corner of the world. Lee’s dedication to designing buildings that are complementary to the countryside, as best as possible, has earned this firm membership to the Association for Environment Conscious Building, a network of individuals and companies with a common aim of promoting sustainable buildings. ARK is also a CIAT registered practice, standing for the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, the qualifying body for architectural technology primarily across the UK but also internationally.
Lee is a highly motivated chartered architectural technologist, one that champions the importance of sustainability. “I believe that all design should be sustainable and innovative. The idea of sustainability is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the legacy for future generations. Here at ARK we aim to produce inspiring, creative, healthy spaces that are not only functional, but durable and energy efficient. Spaces that have a positive effect on the environment, rather than negative.” Lee and the team can not only think up ingenious design solutions for any project, they can also specify environmentally friendly and sustainable materials and construction methods to use where appropriate. They regularly advise on technologies such as ground source or air-source heat pumps for sustainable homes, alongside solar panels, green roof systems and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR), to really build a home that is a part of the surrounding environment and to use the natural resources available to heat, cool and sustain it. Thanks to their experience in this sector, the team have also had training in Passivhaus design software. Backed with over 30 years of international evidence, Passivhaus is a tried-and-tested solution that gives a range of proven approaches to deliver net-zero-ready new and existing buildings. With this information the team can advise on creating low-energy, comfortable buildings constructed to standards that far exceed those of the current Building Regulations.
Lee had a vision of creating a leading architectural practice that would easily compete with larger firms in Cornwall, in a bid to move away from impersonal corporate approaches and instead focus on something smaller, more personalised, and more hands on for each of their clients. Over the last nine years, the business has gone from strength to strength, quickly building up a reputation for producing high-quality designs that still retain that personal touch. ARK was founded in 2014; before this time Lee was an associate at another Cornwall-based practice for 14 years, so it should come as no surprise that the knowledge Lee has gained over the years enables him to have a unique perspective on the property industry here in Cornwall, which he draws on when advising clients. Lee specialises in bespoke residential developments, residential renovations and extensions, using his experience to create innovative cutting-edge design solutions that seamlessly integrate with the neighbouring properties, landscapes or existing structures. Whilst Lee steers the ship, he is by no means working alone. Since its inception, ARK has increased its team to four full time staff and two freelance members, creating quite the company of technicians, all of which have their own specialities, ranging from architecture and interior design to conserving historical buildings.
There is one home in particular that I myself pass on a regular basis, and every time I do I am in awe of its ingenuity and its ability to somehow integrate itself within the surrounding marram grass and sand dunes that make up the stunning Gwithian Towans. This property was a finalist of ‘Best Individual New Home’ at the LABC Building Excellence Awards in 2020, and with good reason. The site in which this home sits is in a highly visible part of the north Cornish coast, adjacent to a triple SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) with regular footfall, especially in the summer months. In their own words: “The end result has created an exemplar, a highly energy efficient, high-quality dwelling with a plethora of innovative technologies on board. The original concept was carried out by ACG Architects, who came up with the beautifully designed home that met the specific requirements of the client. ARK was then appointed by the client to take the project over, which included making some design amendments and then preparing a revised planning package of information. ARK then worked closely with the client and produced all building regulations and construction information taking the project through to a successful completion on site. ARK’s approach was to produce considered, creative solutions to ensure the viability of the development ensuring that it came in on budget and to an extremely high standard. The project was delivered on time and on budget helping to ensure the client was extremely happy with the outcome.”
ARK is proud of the legacy that the team are creating, made stronger every day by their catalogue of homes, continuously helping homeowners do their bit for the environment and create their dream home with minimal damage to this beautiful part of the world. ARK offers a free consultation to all potential clients here in Cornwall, with an informal meeting in your home, or at the ARK studio which is located in Newquay, to discuss your ideas and explore the feasibility of the project you have in mind. The face to face, on-site meetings, according to Lee, are “important to understand the site and its surroundings, enabling us to develop a detailed design brief and tailor what services we can offer. We put our heart into all our projects, big or small, and it’s a journey we love going on with all our clients.”
ARK Sustainable Architecture is a tight knit group of experienced, talented professionals in the business of designing unique, innovative, modern properties for the next generation to call home. Without the carbon footprint, without the demand on local resources, without the reliance on non-renewables, ARK has and will continue to find ways of creating dream abodes with techniques and technologies that work in harmony with this landscape, so if you are looking to start that journey, then ARK is ready to accompany you on the adventure.