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From the ground up

Sustainable architecture informs a design for the future.

Words by Hannah Tapping

Situated high above one of the most sought-after bays on the north Cornish coast, Mawgan Porth, ARCO2 were commissioned to replace an existing dwelling that was no longer fit for purpose with a contemporary, highly sustainable home that would make the most of the ocean views at every turn. ARCO2 were chosen by the clients in part for their passion for high-quality architecture in Cornwall, but also due to the fact that they design ‘healthy’ buildings built around the lives and needs of their clients.

The build was a ‘fabric-first’ construction. By maximising the performance of the components and materials that make up the building fabric itself, before considering the use of mechanical or electrical building services systems, helps to reduce capital and operational costs, improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. With a complex design, Director of ARCO2, Nathan Davis, explained how some of the challenges were tackled: “The use of 3D design software helped us to overcome most construction related complexities at the design stage. Thankfully, the main contractor (Billy Fullerton, Dan Hatfield and Ben Rushton of Lion Park Construction) had an exceptional eye for detail, taking great care and attention throughout the entire construction period. We had a close working relationship with them, with weekly meetings in order to keep the detailing on track. Each and every meeting was solution-led with Billy investing his time into bringing solutions rather than problems.

“The steel frame installation was a lengthy and painstaking process as they had to be millimetre perfect to enable a multitude of junctions to meet correctly. Cold bridge and airtightness detailing had to be detailed and then rehearsed on site. Again, Billy had exceptional foresight in working through details with us ahead of the construction programme. As outside and inside elements required continuous insulation as part of the ‘fabric-first’ approach, this required a further considered approach. Due to the elevated location, it often experienced 70+ mph winds and rain which the build team took in their stride at each and every stage of works.”

Due to its ocean-front location, the aptly named Elements gifts the occupants with a view of the sea from every internal living space; although ARCO2 were careful to design the building so no two were exactly the same, making each vista unique due to exterior treatments and framing. The glass bridge and opening roof combination to the main entrance foyer also provides an architectural experience that is fitting of the of this coastal location.

Working very closely with the clients, Nathan and his design team were able to realise their vision down to the finest of details: “The clients were entirely engaging from start to finish; being blessed with such accommodating, kind and open-minded clients has made this project a pleasure to work on. All building projects come with unforeseen challenges, and it’s these that are a true test of a professional working relationship. In this case, despite some tricky problems that would need to be solved, the clients remained focused on their goal of achieving the highest quality family home with supreme architectural interest.”

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