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Foxglove House

Sponsored by
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Park Farm a


Location: Tring, Hertfordshire

Brick Manufacturer: HG Matthews

Brick Name: Mixture

Architect: Kirkland Fraser Moor

Brickwork Contractor: Ade McCrea & Chris Edwards

About the project

Kirkland Fraser Moor developed the design of Foxglove House from a response to natural and cultural forces, whilst keeping the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainability; social, economic & ecological sustainability central in their thinking.

The walls of Foxglove house display a tapestry of traditional craft interwoven with contemporary innovation, embedding the vernacular character of Hertfordshire’s landscape throughout its fabric. Firstly as product, from the local brick supplier H.G. Matthews (HGM); then as process, through close collaboration with local bricklayers; and lastly, between the mortar of the contemporary bungaroosh wall, local ecology reclaims the bricks to form their habitat.

As per Paragraph 79e, KFM was required to demonstrate that our proposal was ‘innovative’ to such an extent that it ‘raise[d] standards of design [in] rural areas’. Therefore, upon its completed construction, Foxglove House has since developed from a testing ground for innovation into a case study for future rural housing solutions in its understanding and reuse of local materials and construction.

HGM is located only 3.6 miles from the site of Foxglove House and is one of the few remaining wood-fired, hand-made brick suppliers in the country. Demonstrating a sustainable business that has survived by innovatively meeting the challenges of their time, as reflected by their research and development in renewable wood-firing and biomass drying.

KFM worked closely with HGM to understand, identify and reimplement the ‘end-of-line’ bricks into the proposed external walls. HGM make bricks by hand, and therefore create a larger proportion of specials that other brick yards. The resultant large variety of these end-of-line brick specials are stored for the chance of use on other projects, but inevitably numbers build up. KFM proposed a new solution; to use many of these specials together to create a unique, low-tech, localised wall composition at a reduced cost.

To explore the capabilities of recycled brick from the scale of a single unit, to the element of a wall and then home as a whole, KFM embarked on practical experimentation at their D-Lab offices. Working alongside local bricklayers Clive Curville, then Ade McCrea and Chris Edwards; three prototypes were developed, exploring the variety of brick typologies and finishes (lime render) for use in discussions between KFM, the client and contractors.

Moreover, in 2019, this work was exhibited at the prestigious Royal Academy Show, where KFM’s innovation in ecological, economic and social balancing through the re-imagined bungaroosh wall was celebrated. This work also contributed to KFM’s ongoing research into developing buildings and construction details that can encourage greater biodiversity, following their work on construction detail design examples for Dr Carol Williams’ book - Biodiversity for Low and Zero Carbon Buildings: A Technical Guide for New Building.

The Meech family have welcomed the opportunity to cohabit alongside the Wiggington flora & fauna, and varying voids and boxes within the magnificent ‘habitat walls’ offer nesting places to the various bats, swifts/swallows and bees.

Sponsored by Wienerberger Limited

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At Wienerberger Limited we’re building beyond what we know to be possible today, and rethinking how we create value for our customers and partners, our people and our communities. Our sustainability strategy ‘Let’s Build Beyond’ looks ahead to 2030 and we have already set workstreams in motion to help us to reach our goals.

Wienerberger Limited