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Not your average Hobbit hole: Make Architects' zero carbon underground house


May 26, 2011

Planning has been granted for a unique zero-carbon underground house in the U.K.

Planning has been granted for a unique zero-carbon underground house in the U.K.

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There's more to environmentally-friendly architecture than solar-panels and thermal mass, it's also about designing buildings that are not at-odds with their surroundings - particularly if the building is in the middle of a picturesque landscape. This example form Make Architects ticks both boxes - it uses on-site renewable energy to achieve a zero-carbon design and blends almost seamlessly into the landscape by ignoring convention and, like the residents of The Shire, going underground.

Billed as the first zero-carbon property in the North West of England, Make says that planning has now been granted by by Bolton Council for the 8,000ft², flower-shaped underground house.

The design was commissioned by English footballer, Gary Neville, who has been "heavily involved in the design process from the outset and is passionate about preserving the natural beauty of this area."

The single-level, four bedroom property is embedded into a hillside and ringed by a series of teardrop shaped outdoor areas which give the building its floral flavor when viewed from above. This approach enables the dwelling to blend into the surrounding meadows, minimizing the impact on the natural landscape and surrounding views.

The design incorporates a range of renewable energy elements including a ground source heat pump, photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine. Make says that this add-up to a building that will consume less energy than it generates.

The ability to source building materials locally has also been taken into consideration in formulating the design. Work is expected to commence later this year.

Source: Make Architects via World Architecture News.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted Gizmag.com in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007. All articles by Noel McKeegan

Building underground should get additional attention, given this Spring\'s experiences with tornadoes. In fact, you\'d think there would be a natural synergy between building underground and the manufactured home industry. Install prefab housing underground and suddenly it\'s no longer a death-trap!

Loving It All



Perfect realization of Liberal dreams. Humans relegated into holes so as not to upset Gaia with our bacteria-like presence.

Todd Dunning

Please check out sustainable conrete domes and pass around that information. Its not new but its a good thing to avoid damges from earthquakes tornadoes hurricanes floods and nuclear damage.I thnk the building inudustry should stop making paper plastic houses they are not healthy.

Daliya Robson

Troglodytes forever! I agree with \'Loving It All\' - we should take a page from our pioneers who built of adobe and turf covered dwellings. Imagine the forests, transport costs and materials we\'d save! I\'ve done just about all I can with my recycled 70 year old house, but if I could start over it would be underground! Well done iSigma, Inc.!


This design is fine for heat and tornadoes, but not all areas will accommodate a home underground because of chance of flood.


....when can I move in! (:>)

Paul Liversuch

\"This design is fine for heat and tornadoes, but not all areas will accommodate a home underground because of chance of flood.\"

Nothing a giant snorkel couldn\'t solve.


Maybe this will satisfy the yearnings of atavistic protection and security from the architect, as well happens since Cappadocia and chineses cavern\'s era, passing by Christian Müller, who surely was inspired by its country\'s cheese too. However, we all know the cost of support of underground structures and the great need of sunlight in all environments for a good home. The ecological appeal of the project is not enough to justify such type of construction, at least curious and claustrophobic. Perhaps one day, on account of human overcrowding, we will even have to go back to the origins and make of hills and mountains, a big Swiss cheese. Will be this the architect\'s choice?

Facebook User

@ Todd Dunning

Insecure much?

AnOld BlackMarble

Love it, but before you call it a \'zero carbon\' house, show the \'carbon footprint\' of the construction process. Going to need a lot of \'carbon spewing\' bulldozers and backhoes.


Lucky they studiously ignored transport and the miles of road gouged through the landscape to provide access (well, so long as his Audi Q7 has the right fuel in the tank anyhow :-)


I can imagine the brief to the architects: \"Listen up Chaps. We\'ve got a lazy 5 mill lying about and we\'d like you to knock us up a country cottage. It must be on an acre (4016m2) at least but make sure that it leaves no room to kick a ball on the site when its done.

I\'ll need at least two carparks, each of at least 120 m2. The public one is for guests and our Prius and then we\'ll need a secret tunnel to get to the other where we\'ll park the real motors!

We\'ll need lots of walls and no front door. We love the country but don\'t want to actually mix with the riff raff neighbours and the last thing we want to see is a smelly farm animal.

Oh yes, if you could possibly make such wantonly conspicuous consumption appear \"Green\", there\'s an extra big drink in it for you. You know how the chattering classes can be...


This house reminds me of Luke\'s home in the first (er fourth) Star Wars. Can\'t you just see the kids yelling down, \"Uncle Owen! Can I run into town and get some relay converters for my eliptical air hoverbike?\"

Knut Scott Lindsley

Just because it has low visual impact on the surrounding it does not mean it is sustainable architecture. Life-cycle GHG accounting is needed to claim that it is zero carbon.

Pei-Ru Chao

Zero carbon(-dioxide) is nonsense anyhow. Virtually the entire biosphere is built from CO2, and needs it. Pushing it back up to 1000ppm would be an excellent idea. Even if warming resulted (doubtful), that\'s also known to be a major benefit for humans and almost all other organisms.

Anyhow, these homes are often worthwhile for lots of other reasons. Check out \"dome homes\", such as those here: http://www.monolithic.com/ .

Brian Hall
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