Brandon Fold Farm

Zero Carbon Design, Construction – Straw Bale, Local Sourcing, Community Engagement, Recycling

Straw – The Environmental Benefits

The Intelligent Design Centre was invited to develop the design for a single residence for a private client in Wigan, Lancashire.  The site, located on the outskirts of a small village is located in a distinctly rural area with far-reaching views to the South.

The key to the design of the house is to minimise its visual impact on the Greenbelt and design a truly sustainable home.  The house will be constructed from straw, grown and baled in the neighbouring field – (1 tonne of straw bales store 2 tonnes of C02).

40% of the house volume will be produced in the town and 95% of the building will be capable of being recycled at end of life.

Location: Wigan, Lancashire

Keys Aspects: Architecture, Paragraph 55, Greenbelt


The Intelligent Design Centre was invited to develop a concept for a small sustainable housing project in northern Scotland.

The site, located on the outskirts of a small village in a distinctly rural area is in Greenbelt.

Expanding on the ‘Green Infrastructure’ concept, the housing typology for the project must satisfy various planning policies. Among these, the possible requirement for mixed housing types within a development (particularly affordable housing) presents a challenge in terms of providing good quality, yet low-cost homes.

Our concept involved focusing on groundwork. This allowed us to mould  the site into a framework that could then host a variety of activities – living, growing and play. Once the space is created for the relevant activities, pre-fabricated structures can be placed on site to provide living accommodation.

Location: Highlands, Scotland

Keys Aspects: Sustainable Design, Greenbelt

Little Stanrose Farm

The development was submitted for planning  in accordance with the special circumstances identified within Paragraph 55 (bullet point 4) of National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The policy is permissive of new dwellings within the countryside where they are of ‘exceptional quality or innovative their nature of design and have the following attributes”:

  • Be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise the standards of design more generally in rural areas;
  • Reflect the highest standards in architecture;
  • Significantly enhance its immediate setting;
  • Be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.

The development is considered to be exceptional on the basis that it is designed comprehensively to reflect the local vernacular in terms of style, massing and form and to unite a rather forlorn collection of disparate and poorly maintained buildings.

The aesthetic discipline has resulted in a proposal that is reminiscent of the existing structures such that collectively they are difficult to distinguish from the existing barns when observed from the Cox Green Road – the nearest public highway.

Location: Bolton, Lancashire

Keys Aspects: Architecture, Greenbelt, Responsive Design

Update: Awarded Planning Permission in 2018

The Squirrels

Faced with the challenge of extending a substantial family home in Greenbelt, The Intelligent Design Centre had to address issues such as scale, mass and aesthetic demands in a manner that presented a recognised later addition to this already impressive house without being visually dominant.

The site, located on the outskirts of a small village is in a distinctly rural area is in Greenbelt.  It also neighbours a previous IDC property that featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.  Given this context, the solution adopted a modernist white-rendered and slate-hung design that avoided aesthetic competition.

The addition presents a ‘book-end’ and balance to the existing principle facade whilst the main volume of the new-build element is located towards the rear.  The introduction of a sizeable balcony offers an external sitting area with far-reaching views and enables natural light into the main living spaces.

Location: Bolton, Lancashire
Key Aspects: Architecture, Greenbelt

Zero Carbon House

This one-off, dwelling is considered to be exceptional on the basis that it integrates the most up to date technologies to take the house off grid (zero carbon).

The design creates a two storey dwelling which incorporates the natural environment as part of its overall concept, therefore avoiding compromising the openness of the landscape, and can rightly be judged as an outstanding example of site specific contemporary design.

Robust, modern detailing & use of low maintenance high quality facing materials throughout will ensure that the development weathers well and remains visually appealing in all climatic conditions. The building form is divided vertically to reduce the overall linearity of the scheme and to frame individual components of it – Lounge, Bedrooms, Office. Views from each space will be framed. As such it is intended that the dwelling is observed as sectional albeit retaining its visual coherence.

Location: Bolton, Lancashire
Key Aspects: Architecture, Sustainability, Planning

Zero Carbon House

The clients challenge was to develop a wholly sustainable family eco house, incorporating local materials and maximising the natural environment into which the property is to be built.

The proposed residence, located in Chorley Lancashire, will be carbon neutral and achieve Code Level 6 of the ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’. In order to achieve this, the house will be positioned and detailed to reduce energy consumption whilst minimising over-heating through solar gain.

The building incorporates ancillary accommodation within the created roof space, living space at ground floor level and bedrooms at the lower ground floor level. The building is centred upon a spine wall of rough hewn coursed natural stone that threads its way through the building both externally and internally. This concept is a visual interpretation of the local vernacular and ensures that visually the building sits low in the site and encourages the landscape to mature around and over it.

Location: Chorley
Key Aspects: Architecture, Sustainability, Planning