As part of our new series, Chapters, we’ll be exploring and discovering the individuals and organisations at the very forefront of planet friendly thinking and business for good. Those who, like us, champion the philosophy; ‘there’s a better way’. From architecture and construction through to food, fashion and everything in between, this initiative is designed to help us all better connect with the lesser known figures working hard to challenge the status quo and build a better future.
For 001 we’d like to introduce The Arbour, a development in North East London which is redefining the landscape of housing with ten unique homes that set an international benchmark in planet-positive building. We’ve been keeping in contact with both Ben Spencer and Josh Gordon, the two behind the project, over a shared passion for responsibility and impact – and were offered the chance to get a glimpse into the project whilst still under construction. We jumped at the opportunity to visit the site and talk in a bit more detail.
The project is a world-first, rewriting the rulebook on sustainable construction and designed to be carbon negative, energy positive and completely zero-waste. With no concrete or welding used, the ten homes are entirely constructed from the existing site, with blocks being made from compressed earth, storing more carbon than is emitted throughout its entire lifetime.
The development is also built to be fully self-sustaining, requiring very little energy, all of which is supplied by integrated solar panels. Every last detail has been considered: from the site itself and the way materials are made or transported, through to temperature regulation and energy usage.
If you top it all off with bathroom fittings made from recycled yoghurt pots, furniture made from recycled coffee grounds, and the thoughtful design of communal spaces, it really feels like a blueprint for the future.
Michael Lynas from the Architects, Studio Anyo, explains ’We incorporated a series of design choices to realise this, including the availability of local materials, compact massing to reduce heat loss, a bespoke, south-facing roof design, strategic window placement to retain heat and capture daylight and material choices driven by purpose and simplicity.’
For us, it’s the ambition that really sets this development apart, and the potential that comes with opening up such a concept. The team behind The Arbour see this as a trial of sorts, in the hope they can test, learn and grow from here. The site is a first of it’s kind, but hopefully the first of many.
Ben, The Arbour’s development Director, grew up locally in Walthamstow, so this project is of personal significance. On this first site, he said ’When we set out four years ago with a goal to develop a flexible framework to build one of the most sustainable projects in the world, we chose Orford Road as the pilot to prove that, if we could achieve our carbon and energy positive, zero waste aspirations on a site this small and constrained, then it could be viably rolled out across any size development.
Amazingly, the scheme will ’achieve and exceed’ the RIBA 2030 operational energy and embodied carbon targets ‘even before incorporating on-site renewable energy or carbon offsetting schemes’. And the project aims to be carbon positive after 15 years of operation.
We’ll be watching closely to see what GS8 and their partners do next.