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Digital Subscriptions > Build It > January 2019 > A lesson in sustainability

A lesson in sustainability

Architect Ian Armstrong specialises in building energyefficient homes for his clients, but had to put his skills to the test when creating his own contemporary abode in Cornwall

Architect Ian Armstrong had long dreamt of undertaking his own self build. In 2010, after a four-year search for the perfect plot, an opportunity finally arose for Ian and his wife Lisa to realise their vision. However, Ian wasn’t immediately gripped with excitement at the prospect of tackling his own project. “It felt like someone else’s scheme,” he says. “Because I do this day-in, day-out for clients at the practice, Arco2 Sustainable Architecture, it wasn’t until I moved in that it really hit me.”

For Ian, tracking down a site in his desired area – that also fell into a suitable price bracket – proved challenging. Having lived and worked in the region for years, he didn’t hesitate when a semi-rural plot with outline planning permission for two new houses came onto the market. “The two units were being sold together and the vendor didn’t want to break it,” says Ian, who took friend and fellowdirector of Arco2, Nathan Davis, to have a look. “He didn’t have a clue what was going on until we arrived. He hadn’t been actively looking for a site, but he wanted to self build – so we went for it.”

A fitting design

The existing planning consent was for two fairly unremarkable, traditional-looking houses. However, Ian soon set about tweaking the original proposal into something with greater visual appeal that responded to his own brief, as well as the unique characteristics of the site. “Family and friends often say to me that designing the house must have been an interesting process, involving an amalgamation of different aesthetic elements I’d seen and liked over the years. But actually, it doesn’t work like that,” he says. “The aim of any design is for the building to belong to its site. I analysed the views, the sun’s path, wind direction and trees before creating the plans.”

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About Build It

Build It is Britain’s longest running self build magazine. Each issue is packed full of inspirational and informative readers’ homes, as well as expert advice on issues from budgets and planning to project management and design. This month: - Adding space & value to your period home - 10 must-see timber frame homes - The benefits of serviced plots for self builders - Stylish stoves & fireplaces