Box House, our first ever U-Build house, is to be featured on the new Channel 4 series titled My Grand Designs. The Grand Designs spin-off, hosted by Kevin McCloud, follows the biggest self-build project the UK has ever seen at Graven Hill in Oxfordshire. The development will eventually comprise 1900 Custom and Self Build (CSB) homes and is of national significance, a ‘vanguard’ project helping to meet the government’s commitment to doubling the number of CSB Homes by 2020. The My Grand Designs series will follow the first 10 pioneer self-build clients during the construction of their very individual homes.
Exact details about when the programme will air (later this Spring) are yet to be announced, but will be publicised on our social media platforms @studiobark in due course.
Box House and the conception of U-Build
U-Build was conceived back in 2015 as a result of Chris and Roxie’s challenging brief: the young clients did not have the budget to pay for an external contractor, nor the specialist skills to lead the build process themselves. As a direct response, Studio Bark developed an innovative system of flat-pack timber building boxes, known as U-Build. The box modules were simple enough to be built by the client, but complex enough to perform the many requirements of a building envelope, and meet the stringent tests of the structural warranty provider. The flat-pack U-Build system is modular, flexible and can be ‘nested’ onto standard sheets of plywood, resulting in minimal wastage.
The U-Build system was developed in collaboration with structural engineers Structure Workshop and prototyping / manufacturing from Cut and Construct. Since it’s conception we’ve built a number of smaller U-Build structures (internal and external) but Chris and Roxie’s house was a chance to test the system at an ambitious scale – a detached, two storey home of 95sqm.
Box House Construction
Led by the Studio Bark team, the U-Build shell (including insulation, membrane and cladding) was constructed in 8 weeks by a group of architecture students from around the country. During the project, the ambitious team lived ‘off-grid’ in a temporary campsite nearby made from reclaimed materials. The campsite included a luxurious composting toilet, a covered dining area and a hot shower. The latter combining a fire pit with a heat exchanger from an old boiler, a 1000L agricultural water tank and a sunken enamel bath.