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Showhouse Magazine

Oct 2004

What does Bob Tomlinson mean by ‘eco-house’?

‘It minimises damage to the environment. Buildings use up enormous amounts of energy, mostly on lighting and heating, so we build timber-framed houses that are well insulated and make the best use of natural light.’

Hence the large windows.

He also acknowledges that the site was chosen because it faces south-west and can benefit from ‘passive solar gain.’ Similarly, the rising ground behind it protects the site from cold north-east winds.

You have to add to these physical advantages the fact that Tomlinson has planted 3,000 trees on the draughty edges of the cluster to act as windbreaks, and you begin to understand better how he likes to operate. A site is much more than a parcel of land on which you can plant houses. It has to be somewhere he would want to live.

Living Villages is a team which has found a successful formula for producing highly individual housing communities. And if they can promise to earn upwards of 30 per cent more per square metre than the ‘bog-standard builders on the other side of town’, I wonder if their future may lie in the world of consultancy rather than direct housebuilding. They have a package with much sophisticated detail to sell and some of those bog-standard developers could do worse than consider them for joint ventures.

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