On the drawing board: New renovation projects for 2017

2017 is proving to be a very busy year already and since January we have begun a number of new renovations which are currently in the initial design stage. Included here are three brief examples to showcase some of the different projects that we have been working on....
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Fife Architects win design award for eco-renovation

We are still in a celebratory mood after winning the award for 'Best Small Project' at this year’s Dundee Institute of Architects Design Awards for our Easter Fernie School House renovation near Cupar. The schoolhouse 'eco-renovation' saw the refurbishment and...
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Fife Architects featured in ‘Living Magazine’ Autumn Issue

We are delighted to be featured in Living Magazine's autumn issue published by DC Thomson. The article features our Millring Conversion project near Pittenweem in Fife. Designed and managed by partner architect Lucy Beltran, the article briefly describes the...
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Entrance view, new build house

Our industrial house design gets planning approval

We have exciting news to share // Our new house design for a site in Fife has received full planning permission. The new family home will be situated on a coastal site just outside Charlestown near Dunfermline. The site is on the shoreline of the Firth of Forth and...
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Exterior view artist's cottage

Fresh House Renovation Projects

We have several new projects on the go focusing on practical house renovation ideas and modern home extensions. The projects are all in the initial design stage and include a ground floor house renovation and extension in Elie, a timber clad extension of an artist's...
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Iron Mill Bay New House Design

New House Design – Industrial meets rural

We have just submitted a full planning application for an exciting new home on a site just outside Charlestown near Dunfermline. A lot of research, consideration and care have gone into the design of this unique family home and for now all we can do is wait! Situated...
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Exterior Gatehouse Extension

New year, new projects

Happy New Year to you all...2016 is shaping up to be a busy and challenging year here at Fife Architects in a good way! Fired up with 'January oomph' we are currently working on a new build house at an unusual plot nestled on the shores of the Forth, south...
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Front elevation

Site Visits: Oak Frame Extension and a Refurbished School House

We have news on two current residential projects: the first an oak frame extension with internal alterations to a B listed property in the picturesque village of Falkland and the second, the complete renovation and extension of a former school house set in rolling...
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Fife Architects Finalists in Herald Property Awards 2015

We have two lots of good news to share with you in this post. Firstly, we were excited to hear that we are finalists in the Herald Property Awards for Scotland 2015 Best Renovation/Conversion category announced just last week. The awards were started in 2007 and aim...
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Eco-Minimalism: The Way Forward for Green Architecture?

“If we are to move forward… towards mainstreaming ecological design as an integral part of building for the 21st century, then it is crucial that it is accessible, economic, genuinely environmentally sound, gimmic-free and not stigmatised as a style” – Howard Liddell from ‘Eco-minimalism – the antidote to eco-bling’ RIBA Publications 2008

From governments and politicians down to tradesmen and factory workers we are all made aware of the impending dangers of global warming, climate change and the crazy amounts of other human related  side-effects imposed on our planet through our modern-day lifestyles.  The problem is that with reasonable panic, comes unreasonable thinking.  In the construction industry, eco-bling is preached ‘as a means to an end’ and seems more a quasi-solution based on reactionary thought and very little practice.  Today, sustainability has become another one of those dreaded buzz words and as it gains momentum,  most people perceive it as a new “trend” and not a way  of  living. Concepts of green architecture today are peppered with greenwashing and failed attempts at providing quality in sustainability.  People are rushing to the recycling bins and fixing their outdated buildings, with green technology badges such as solar panels and micro wind turbines, but fail to understand sustainability in the broader context and often fail to implement a green design approach that works.  The same high-end green technology solutions being sold to us as antidotes to climate change might not be as green as they first appear.

Eco-minimalism

Recently, I came upon Howard Lidell’s – brilliantly named-  ‘Eco-minimalism – the antidote to eco-bling’ (2008). After reading this,  you realise that there is a  more realistic and cost-effective approach to going ‘green’  which simply follows basic concepts of  ‘eco-minimalism’ – a good design approach that is tied to ecological building design through careful selection of materials, building orientation, environmental design and specification.  Eco-minimalism is about making a building react to its environment in ‘passive’ ways rather than ‘active’ solutions.  Far from reaching the almost high tech levels of ‘PassivHaus’ design, Eco-minimalism aims to dissect these principles even further.  For example, slapping a bunch of solar-thermal panels in the roof of a 1950’s bungalow is an ‘active’ way of addressing water and space heating, but it ignores the need for increasing its out-dated insulation or reducing hot water usage in the first place.  Both of which can be achieved with low-cost methods of construction (cavity wall insulation & simple  water saving measures) . Careful planning and implementation at design stage can almost negate the use of any ‘green-technology’ at all.  Basically, any  building or design can increase their ‘ eco-credentials’ by concentrating on less obvious strategies such as insulation, draught-proofing and the use of healthy local  materials and not ‘Greenwashing’ a design by picking ‘off-the-shelf’ green solutions that may actually cause more harm to the environment than good.

As Architects, builders, planners and designers, we must strive to find the simplest and most cost effective solutions in support of truly ecological, affordable sustainable architecture for everyone.

Other recommended books

Brown, G. Z (2000) Sun, Wind and Light: Architectural Design Strategies, London: John Wiley & Sons

Kwok A & Grondzik W (2011) The Green Studio Handbook: Environmental Strategies for Schematic Design, London: Architectural Press

Lechner, N (2008) Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Methods for Architects, London: John Wiley & Sons

Green Material » Hemcrete

Here is one of the greenest building materials on the market. It can be used in anything from small extensions to large housing projects. It has amazing thermal properties and its exceptional thermal performance and air-tightness, means that when walls are constructed using Hemcrete, buildings do not require additional insulating layers – so buildings are not only air tight, but can run with minimal heating and avoid the need for air conditioning.

Also, because the primary component of Hemcrete is hemp – a renewable industrial crop that can be grown and harvested in many climates around the world – it captures and locks away CO2 within the fabric of the building. This means that whilst a typical brick house can be responsible for around 50 tonnes of CO2 emissions in its construction, the same house built using Hemcrete can be built for 30-40% less CO2 emissions but additionally it absorbs CO2 in its manufacture so it has a negative embodied CO2. read more…

We are up and running!

Fife Architects Open For Businessfife architects

After a few months of preparation, late nights, piles of takeout and a few friendly debates, the business is finally up and running. At the core is our new location in the beautiful East Neuk, our wide range of professional design services and this website, which we invite you to fully explore and hope you enjoy. We are now finally ready to serve the Kingdom of Fife and its surroundings and hope to offer our architectural experience and knowledge to everyone looking for professional design services for their building project.

How exactly did this all happen?

After years of professional experience in a wide range of projects and with the new family focus (the twins), Lucy and I decided it was time for us to gather all our experience and channel our efforts to provide innovative, stylish and sustainable architecture that is accessible to everyone. Having become more environmentally responsible over the years I also decided it was time to start searching for more ‘green’ design knowledge and for ways of sharing it with the world; this is how both Fife Architects and Sutmundo.com were born.

We are now fully functional and definitely ready to face any new and exciting design challenge, watch this space!… Now I better get back to work!

Fermín.

 

 

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