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Periscope House








Norfolk Pro Build


Completed 2014


We should be building more modest, super-sustainable houses like this – a lot more. We need more Natashas to employ more Wilfs… We need to be braver. – Kevin McCloud, Channel 4’s Grand Designs, Season 14 Episode 6, 08.10.14

Periscope House sits on virgin land in rural Norfolk, with a southern aspect & a gentle slope towards the valley of the River Tud. The two timber clad periscopic balconies frame the beautiful views to the valley, but also act as fixed passive solar shading, proportioned to respond directly to summer & winter sun angles. This ensures that the hot summer sun is blocked, whereas the cooler winter sun is able to enter into the thermal envelope with very little obstruction.

A locally sourced Amelanchier tree has been transplanted in front of the southern aspect of the building, and once established will provide additional seasonal solar shading. A high level openable rooflight and a substantial GGBS concrete trombé wall & stair provides for a low impact & season specific passive heating and cooling system.

High ceilings & a generous open courtyard ensure that the plan depth is minimised, accompanied with low level openable windows, (positioned to make the most of prevailing winds) efficient occupant controlled natural ventilation is provided. On the very coldest winter days, the building is heated with a small, efficient log gasification boiler, utilising seasoned firewood from the adjacent woodlands. The firewood will be sourced from the waste timber of nurse trees, planted to encourage the growth of final crop timber.

All site spoil unearthed during excavation has been used for the landscaping, hugely reducing the impact on the UK’s landfill sites, whilst also reducing transport footprints. All the Western Red Cedar used for the cladding was sourced from the local woodlands, situated just 500m from the site and was milled by mobile saw mill. The planks were stacked ‘in stick’ in the adjacent and redundant farm buildings before being processed, graded and installed by a team of masters architecture students from UEL.

This elegant solution for an affordable and environmental family home won permission unanimously at planning committee through Paragraph 55 (National Planning Policy Framework), which relates to building in rural areas where only designs of exceptional quality and designed to the highest architectural standards are approved. Periscope House was the first Code Level 6 building designed and built in the UK to gain planning permission through this policy.


Watch Periscope House come to life on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, October 8th 2014.
Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 certificate.


Local sourcing – how to make your own locally sourced cladding, Green Building magazine, Autumn 2014
Low tech, low cost, high performance – simple environmental architecture, Green Building magazine, Winter 2013


Temper Studio – Furniture
Anna Glover – Textiles & Interiors
David Sinclair – Architectural Visualisations

Client Perspective

My luck started the day Wilf came around for a cup of tea and a tentative meeting. From then on he managed to take my jumbled ideas and a box file of cuttings and arrange them into a coherent, inspiring and ultimately massively exciting, beautiful and original design. Wilf has managed to gently guide me through the perils of planning, the various obstacles that invariably crop up within a Code 6 build with humour and a calm that belies his years. I am, and continue to be astonished by his work ethic and dedication to this build. I absolutely know he is instrumental in making this a reality. – Natasha Cargill.

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