Mole Architects

Mole Architects

Cambridge, GB



This light-filled passive solar house uses minimal energy, using innovative construction methods to harness the heat of the sun. Designed for a family of four, the house is a re-interpretation of the suburban villa house.  Sitting within a broad street of Victorian and Edwardian detached houses close to the centre of Cambridge, the house appears both modest and striking.  The relationship between the shingle-clad front room and the glass-fronted house behind is playful and provocative, suggesting an architecture at once abstract and figurative. The origins of the design come from early discussions with the clients, whose concerns were apparently opposing; on the one hand a wish for order and symmetry, and on the other a striking piece of contemporary design.

The building is constructed entirely from a frame of solid cross-laminated timber panels, supported by glu-laminated beams and columns. The solid timber construction enables solid floors to act as a thermal heatsink, minimising the need for additional heating. The front, north elevation has fewer windows and is clad in a semi-reflective patterned glass rainscreen, whilst the rear elevation has large openings to the sun and the garden, with external sunshades over the outside terrace. A ground-source heat pump provides hot water and the minimal heating required. The building uses less than the target of 15 kWh/sqm for space heating – equivalent to German Passivhaus standards.

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Status: Built
Location: Cambridge, GB