training unit, northumberland



project details

Earth Balance ltd.

c. £155,000

Design start: July. 1994. Site Works: Jan - May 1995


This was the first phase of the Earth Balance Initiative near Ashington which attempted to address social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability, buying a derelict farm and engaging ex-unemployed local men and women in nascent businesses all of which put ecology and ethics at the heart of the business plan.

The building - a horticultural training unit for people with learning difficulties - was designed by Malcolm Newton of Newton Architects who employed Chris to be responsible for Planning and Building Warrant submissions and all site supervision and contract administration. Working with ex-unemployed miners on site was a challenge complicated by a tight budget and a desire for this first
building to be a demonstration project for the site.

The building is a classic passive solar design, with glazed South façade and earth sheltered to the North, a core of block walls and a lightweight timber breathing wall external envelope. Local stone was complemented by a meadow flower roof, all natural paint finishes and natural ventilation. Sewage was taken to a reed bed system and heating was from a district mains fed by a wood fuel boiler.


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