Moss Grove

The sizeable site was occupied by a redundant farmhouse. The key design features  relate to the maximisation of natural light, orientation and views.

The building achieved exceptional design standards and zero carbon, capable of operation off-grid, i.e. not be reliant upon mains energy supplies.

This family home is detailed in such a way as to have the lowest energy consumption possible with renewable technologies then being sensibly applied.

The building incorporates living, recreation (swimming pool), and ancillary accommodation at ground level and bedrooms at first and second floor levels.

Location: Ormskirk
Key Aspects: Architecture, Planning

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

Carcassonne, France

The Intelligent Design Centre was invited to develop the design for a single residence for a private client in southern France.

The site, located on the outskirts of a small village is located in a distinctly rural area with far-reaching views.

The brief required the design of a new house that reflected the local vernacular and to satisfy local planning and building codes.   In order to achieve this and to provide effective project management at distance, (the client is co-located in the UK and in France), the concept centred on developing a sustainable low carbon residence coupled with speed and quality of construction.  A pre-engineered solution was tabled and the resultant design not only addressed the clients specific brief requirements but is designed to a specific building system, rather than pre-designed and made to fit.

The house is designed to provide privacy and to take advantage of the long-distance views over the neighbouring vineyards and towards the Pyrenees.

Location: Carcassonne, France

Keys Aspects: Sustainable Design, Off-site Engineering


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 large carbon-neutral residence is to be constructed in the Green Belt on a moor land site located to the north of Bolton. The house is designed to exacting standards in order to achieve carbon neutrality as well as addressing the requirements of the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) – ‘ of exceptional quality or innovation, enhancing its immediate settings and be sensitive to the defining characteristic of the local area’.

The design reflects the clients desire to avoid a ‘Case-Study’ style house with bolt-on technologies, and instead create a true family home. Every effort has been made to integrate the building within the landscape and reduce its visual mass. This concept is a visual interpretation of the local vernacular – referencing farmsteads and dry stone walling. The building form is divided both horizontally and vertically so that the dwelling is observed as individual elements within the landscape – albeit in a visually cohesive manner.

Location: Bolton
Key Aspects: Architecture, Sustainability, Planning

Leeds Apartments

This site in east Leeds is partly occupied by a derelict public house with the remainder of the site cleared land. IDC have been instructed to design two small apartment blocks on the site together with the renovation and extension of the existing building.

This proposal centres on the professional support the client requires to secure planning approval for the whole site and it was considered beneficial to aesthetically link the converted pub building with the new apartment blocks. Two identical blocks of 7 apartments are illustrated, each incorporating a substantially sized penthouse apartment at 3rd floor level.

One of the key site constraints that had to be addressed was the appropriate positioning of the blocks to avoid a six metre sewer easement.

Location: Leeds
Key Aspects: Architecture, Planning, Finance

Empty Home Redevelopment

A scheme developed as part of IDC’s ‘Creative Living’ concept, the Empty Homes Redevelopment looks at adapting the UK’s existing unused housing stock, into new community living facilities.

The ‘back streets’ of many terraced rows are often residual spaces, that serve little use in terms of occupation. This particular concept looks at enhancing existing rows of terraced housing by incorporating a variety of prefabricated building elements as strategic additions, and converting the ‘back street’ into communal activity spaces.

The ‘Creative Living’ concept falls within a larger framework including ‘Creative Communities’ and ‘Creative Care Networks’ – a holistic approach to addressing the need for housing, by focusing on existing buildings and infrastructures.

Key Aspects: Architecture, Finance, Planning

Stone Merchants Yard

One of the clients principle considerations, and one that we believe forms a fundamental part of the future application is the need to design and live in a functioning ‘home’ rather than one that is seen as an exemplar, case-study house with environmental adornments.

The house is located within an existing quarry and every effort has been made to ensure the design is absolutely site-specific and incapable of being constructed on any other site.

The building will achieve exceptional design standards and be zero carbon with the intension that it will be capable of operation off-grid, i.e. not be reliant upon mains energy supplies.

The building incorporates living and ancillary accommodation at ground level with the only first floor accommodation being restricted to a viewing platform / study.

The design reflects the sites industrial heritage with Corten steel, glass and natural stonework forming the principle palette of materials.

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