ProjectNest House





ContractorStudio Bark Projects

StatusCompleted 2022

A story of trust, determination and friendship, Nest House is an eco-home built by students.

Nest House is a single-storey eco-home, designed to respond to the client’s specific accessibility needs. Constructed using Studio Bark’s modular and demountable U-Build system, the house delivers on their dreams for a low carbon eco-home that celebrates the surrounding countryside.

Photograph of Nest House at sunset from the south elevation

The client’s aspiration was for a home that would cater to their long-term physical needs, due to disability, whilst accomplishing a low carbon footprint. The fully accessible eco-home is free of concrete and structural steel and instead uses reclaimed timber foundations, and timber floor and roof beams created by U-Build. These design decisions, alongside many others, have created a ‘circular‘ home which is fully dismountable at the end of its useful life.

The home is surrounded by the rolling countryside of Herefordshire with beautiful views of the Wye Valley. Responding to the sensitivity of this rural site, the home is bedded into the sloped site – sitting in front of the retaining walls and raised on jackpads made from recycled plastic. To further reduce the visual presence of the home from the village which sits above it, the house is topped with a green roof.

A timber terrace at Nest House overlooking the countryside
Captured by Jim Stevenson
Captured by Jim Stevenson

The project was built by students as part of the pioneering student build programme No Building As Usual, conceived as a practical way to teach participants about sustainable design and alternative working practices.

Architecture students on site at Nest House
Captured by Andy Billman
Captured by Andy Billman

Nest House: An eco-home built by students

Nest House was built by students over the summer of 2021 and was the test bed for the first ever No Building As Usual (NBAU) educational programme – a construction process bringing together architecture students and leading environmental professionals from across the sector.

NBAU evolved from Studio Bark’s ambition to respond to gaps within higher education, specifically a lack of climate literacy and a lack of diversity in education and practice. The programme was run as an experimental not-for-profit collaborative venture, supported by the RIBA and ACAN. The programme was also supported through sponsorship by companies from the wider industry. A huge thank you to our student sponsors: Make Architects, Thermafleece, Kinrise, Darling Associates, Child Graddon Lewis, Grimshaw Architects, the Timber Trade Federation and Forbo, whose collective support made the educational programme possible.

Many thanks also go to the students: Ada Bartholomew, Aurora Takami Siljedahl, Gracious Muzamhindo, Jaykishan Patel, Kyle Kung, Maria Sebastian, Matilda Schlich, Matthew Allen, Mersei Mongaba, Rose McKiernan, Salome Mulenga and Terri-Louise Doyle.

Architecture students learning construction techniques with Studio Bark

Circular materials from ground up

Nest House is built using natural and local building materials wherever possible. The retaining walls use reclaimed railway sleepers foundations, and the home itself sits on 100% recycled and recyclable jackpad foundations, meaning the structure is free of concrete and structural steel.

Above ground, 300 mm wool insulation combined with green roof and solar shading, limit the likelihood of overheating and the need for mechanical cooling. A central lightwell terrace maximises natural light and passive cross-ventilation.

The scheme is fossil gas free and has a low operational energy, running on electricity collected by solar panels and using user-responsive infrared heating.

The outcome has given Francine and Stephen the freedom to enjoy their pocket of the countryside, with a home that provides warmth, shelter and comfort, and accentuates the surrounding landscape.

Bespoke wooden interior by Studio Bark
Nest House built with U-Build modular construction blocks
Clients enjoying their terrace at Nest House
Dog asleep on sofa
Nest House green roof and timber cladding
Terrace view over the countryside from Nest House
Francine enjoying the kitchen at Nest House
View outside through the window at Nest House


Make Architects



Darling Associates

Child Graddon Lewis

Grimshaw Architects

The Timber Trade Federation



Ada Bartholomew

Aurora Takami Siljedahl

Gracious Muzamhindo

Jaykishan Patel

Kyle Kung

Maria Sebastian

Matilda Schlich

Matthew Allen

Mersei Mongaba

Rose McKiernan

Salome Mulenga

Terri-Louise Doyle

Built by students

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