September 6, 2006 As technology evolves, our ability to create remarkable, sustainable temporary living and working environments has grown considerably, as can be evidenced by Gizmag stories on relocatable structures such as the off-the-grid home, the Sphere House, the Nackros Villa, the Free Spirit Sphere, the LoftCube and the first mobile hotel room. Two years ago we wrote about the KitaHaus Pod which is designed as a stand-alone accommodation or temporary office and can also be interlinked to create unique temporary or permanent living and working environments. The KitaHaus legs are adjustable so it can be situated in almost any site including normally unusable sloped and wooded areas. The first built Kitahaus pods are currently going into Elleray Prep School in Windermere, UK as three classrooms and the designer is now seeking JV partners wishing to create eco-tourism resorts.
The Kitahaus concept has been covered in full by the previous article on Gizmag, and the first implementation of the Kitahaus is currently under construction. The school classroom project at Elleray Preparatory School, Windermere Saint Anne’s, Windermere in the U.K. Lake District National Park was designed by Robert Gaukroger, who runs KITA a small design practice in the Lake District. Rob's Kitahaus concept was perfectly suited for the project.
The project seeks to find a solution for a new learning facility including classrooms, Art room and external teaching space, by rethinking how a low impact, carbon responsible and sustainable structure can be constructed. The project which is situated in the Lake District national park aims to be sensitive to the chosen site with the design of Timber Pilotis, constructed from sustainable and recycled materials, with glulam structure, Timber Shingle envelope, perched on timber stilts. This principle safeguards the site with minimal impact to the natural landscape. A natural clearing at the edge of woodland, opposite the main school has been chosen. Planning Permission was granted in December 2007, by the LDNPA.
The construction techniques were chosen to reduce embodied energy. Heating and waste management are designed to cause minimal damage to the environment. Materials and details have been chosen to use recycled or renewable and sustainable materials wherever possible.
Key Ecological Features:
* The site’s natural landscaping helps to protect the pods against dominant prevailing winds and the use of structural stilts ensure a low impact of tree roots and the site
* Passive ventilation will be utilised to cool the rooms by the basic principle of cross ventilation. Each pod end has high, openable windows, which assist in ventilating unwanted heat in the space and introducing fresh air to cool the space, the flow of which can be controlled automatically or manually.
* Solar gain can be controlled by automated solar reflective blinds on the glazed area, while the principle of a solar heated, lightweight heat-retaining mass is being investigated
* Timber is a renewable material doesn’t require large amounts of carbon to fabricate, unlike concrete. Its growth also helps absorb carbon gasses. The timber frame construction allows higher levels of insulation to be installed.
* The structure uses sheep’s wool insulation, which doesn’t have the high levels of embodied energy (energy required to manufacture and therefore the quantity of carbon created during production) associated with chemical insulations.
* Vacuum tube solar water heaters will meet all of the classrooms’ hot water needs, reducing the need for a fossil fuel heating. Vacuum tube solar water heaters have a higher efficiency than flat plate solar panels and can be rotated to optimize the sun’s rays.
* The installation will use a grey water collection tank. Water collected from sinks in the art room will be used to water the gardens.
* Flat plate solar panels will be utilised to run low energy lighting.
* Only biodegradable soaps and detergents will be used in the school to reduce heavy metal building up in the soil or water table.
* The Pods are positioned on timber stilts to ensure minimal impact to the natural landscape. When the building comes to the end of its lifespan, it can be removed with little impact to the natural landscape and the building can be recycled and reused for new construction.
"Quite obviously, the Kitahaus concept has developed considerably since your original article two years ago", said designer Robert Gaukroger.
"Since we last spoke I have developed the pod to achieve its role as a class room and while keeping it sustainable I have enlarged the size to the maximum that can be carried in one piece on the road."
"The cost of an external finished shell at this size, with two glazed ends and a balcony is UKP95,000. We have made five in the last eight weeks and hence we have two available for sale, although we are expecting those two to go quickly.
"We are now developing the pods to the next concept stage and we're seeking JV partners to develop off grid Eco tourism resorts using the pods on exclusive sites of around twenty units which will be aimed at the 6 star market.
"We would ideally like to have one resort in each of the key eco-tourism destinations around the world including the English Lake District, Southern France, Australia and there are numerous Asian destinations which would suit."
Interested parties can contact Robert here.