Design for a new 2 bed, self-build house on a vacant plot in Kings Heath.


The brief was to design a new, 2 bedroom house in the Kings Heath area of Birmingham to provide a retirement home for the client, utilising an awkwardly shaped plot adjacent to their existing house. The design needed to maximise the use of outdoor space while maintaining privacy, and respect the scale and character of the street.


The scheme was developed to take advantage of its setting and orientation – the curve evolved from the desire to minimise energy use, and given the unusually open aspect to the south, this lower roof is used to generate power. The 2 storey element derives its form from the adjacent gables, and together they create a courtyard arrangement which provides privacy without compromising on natural light in the building, as large sliding doors open onto this space, while the ‘rear’ elevations have smaller openings. The proposed timber frame structure and straw bale infill was a response to the clients background as a joiner, the desire to self-build, availability of materials and sustainable aspirations.


The client was extremely happy with the design, which met the brief in terms of layout but, more importantly in terms of the construction methods and reduced energy impact. the proposal proved surprisingly controversial given its departure from the traditional brick terraces it sits within, and , close liaison with the Planning Authority was instrumental in achieving good design. The support from Birmingham City Council for the approach and final design was excellent and the proposal received Planning Approval through a unanimous committee decision.