Our very first development: five houses set around a shared courtyard and all linked to each other with garden walls and walkways. All this on a site that would probably have taken five traditional detached units with integral garages. People must have thought we were crazy.
In 1997, the idea of energy efficiency or eco-building was strictly for the insane and the aspiring unemployed, as far as the construction industry was concerned. But the houses are still popular today and the idea is now accepted as rational. Bells Court was, after all, the product of a lot of research and expertise.
It was Richard St. George from the Schumacher Institute who recommended that we talk to Pat Borer about the project. Pat came up with a highly eco ‘post and beam’ frame design, insulated with recycled newspaper and protected on the outside with lime render.
Contractors Ecostruct then took the project on by buying the site and agreeing to complete the houses to the design and specification that we had in place.
Bells Court probably remains one of the most eco-friendly housing developments in the UK, but it was only the beginning. With proof that eco-friendly developments could be a viable business proposition, we hoped to be able to place what had been a madman’s dream at the forefront of the building industry.