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Planning Approved


This modest two bedroom house sits on a plot of land within the small village of Billingford. It sits in the north west corner of the site. Therefore, the proposal benefits from a south facing, 3 sided courtyard offering glimpsed views of the village church. Billingford is Studio Bark’s 6th home to have permission granted under Paragraph 79 (formerly Paragraph 55) of the NPPF.

The proposal is to be constructed using Studio Bark’s flat-pack U-Build system. U-Build was chosen in response to the client’s self-build ambitions and will allow them to be directly involved in the build of their new home.


The Brief

The client’s desire is to blur the distinction between the home and the beautiful plot of land in which it sits has led to a three-sided courtyard arrangement. The design shelters external space but still lets the client enjoy the openness of the wider site. The client can close the courtyard with a large movable shutter. It offers a changeable space depending on the desired use, whilst also helping to control solar gain.

Arranged over two storeys, the proposal sits to the north of the site. Thus the house is facing the south to maximise from passive solar gains and natural ventilation. The modest plan minimises the impact on the site. Using selected openings and simple gestures, it provides a strong connection with the landscape outside. The proposal includes 2 bedrooms with an open plan kitchen, living and dining space.

An indigenous fruit orchard will satisfy the client’s desire to grow and manage their own produce. It also provides a rich environment for new and existing ecosystems.


The Environment

The predominantly timber construction allows for a very low impact and low energy building. As a result, it fits within its surrounding natural context.

Studio Bark incorporated industry leading environmental strategies throughout the building; the use of fabric-first detailing, natural ventilation, and passive solar gains. Controlled openings to the south with heavy weight floor and surface finishes storing the thermal energy achieves passive solar gains. They get released during the cooler parts of the day/night. The narrow plan with high level openings makes the most of natural ventilation eliminating the buildings reliance on grid supplies. In addition to this, heat will be supplied through the use of a biomass boiler. Locally sourced timber suppliers feed the boiler together with the additional power through photo-voltaic panels which will be located (and hidden) on the roof of the proposal.



Unlike conventional single-use materials the U-Build system is re-useable, environmentally responsible, and excellent value, with no quality sacrificed. Studio Bark used Computer aided cutting (CnC) to create a ‘flat pack’ system. Therefore the builder can assemble the system with just a mallet, a screwdriver and a spanner. The U-Build boxes are incredibly easy to piece together. In addition, the system minimises the waste material through efficient ‘nesting’ of the parts and the use of a 300mm repeating grid. The system fits perfectly on a standard sheet of plywood.

The engineers tested the U-Build system for structural stability with a horizontal load test, and surpasses current building control requirements. Made of solid plywood or OSB, the builder bolts the system the system together with standard coach bolt fixings, the resulting structure is robust, resilient and cheap to maintain and/or replace if necessary.

The lightweight nature of the design allows the builder to assemble the parts cheaply and efficiently. The system doesn’t require expensive cranes, scaffolding, specialist or potentially disruptive equipment, offering a simple low impact solution for modern quality construction.

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