Hybrid passive solar house in Suffolk , UK

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Moya - view from garden

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View towards living room from conservatory in 1986


"Moya" is the last one of three houses in Charsfield designed, over a period of 20 years, by architect Cedric Green for himself and his family to live in. Charsfield is well known as the model for Ronald Blythe's book "Akenfield" which made a reference to Cedric Green's first house as " of the most beautiful buildings in the village" . An essential part of the original design of all the houses was the concern for energy saving and ecology, by the high level of insulation, by solar gain through large areas of South facing glazing and the use of local traditional natural materials.

"Delta", built in 1974, and the design of "Moya" have been widely published in the architectural press, and the design of "Moya" was a prize winner in the 1st European Passive Solar design competition in 1980. The success of "Moya" was followed by the construction of 14 houses along similar lines at Paxton Court in Sheffield, UK.

Sheffield Paxton Court

Paxton Court houses in Sheffield

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view from street of entrance

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View of conservatory with bedrooms and studio

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Recent photograph with mature trees


Right - View west with "Delta" in the background


"Moya" was built in 1983 for the architect's parents, and the special feature of its design is the very large glazed conservatory facing south onto which all the principal rooms open, and a ventilation system that re-circulates the air warmed by the sun to a cavity under the floors. Insulated shutters inside the conservatory can be closed at night, and in summer they can be lifted to form a ceiling under the sloping glazing to prevent overheating. In addition, the domestic hot water is pre-warmed in a special tank behind the conservatory glazing.

All these features and the good roof and wall insulation make the heating running costs very much lower than a conventional house. The conservatory, heated only by the sun, is a very pleasant daytime living space for most of the year and adds a feeling of openness and space to the whole house.


The building is constructed of facebrick insulated cavity walls enclosing the north east and north west sides, and a timber frame construction on the conservatory side. Douglas fir posts and beams form the structure supporting timber trusses which are exposed in the living room. The conservatory glazing is supported on fir rafters and posts. The conservatory roof glazing is in toughened glass and in laminated glass.

The floor structure is a double cavity construction which provides insulation and thermal storage. Internal partitions are timber framed with chipboard or T&G pine boarding. External windows are sealed double glazing, and the sliding doors between the living room and conservatory are double glazed toughened glass. The timber framed doors to the conservatory have single toughened glass.

The roofing is natural Welsh slate on battens over reinforced roofing felt with ventilation over the insulation. Mineral wool insulation is 150mm in some places and 100mm in others. The roof space over the bedrooms hall and bathroom are floored with chipboard to provide a large amount of storage space, and the trussed roof structure provides easy access, via door from a gallery in the studio or trap door over the hall.

The structure and plan are conceived to allow easy alterations and extensions to be carried out. The similar houses at Paxton Court in Sheffield show the variations possible with this plan and system of construction. For instance the beams in the conservatory are calculated to carry a flat ceiling if required - so part of the conservatory can be enclosed to make extra living or dining space or enlarged bedrooms.

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Floor plan

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View of east conservatory


Right - View from living room towards conservatory, showing summer shading of grapevine and horizontal suspended insulating shutters, (shown unfurnished).


Briefly, the detached single-storey house consist of : an entrance porch leading to a lobby with a shower room and separate WC. A short corridor leads to an open fitted galley kitchen and a spacious lounge/dining room with sloping ceilings, windows to the south-west with views over open fields, and double glazed sliding doors leading into the conservatory which has glazed doors onto the terrace and garden. There are two interconnecting bedrooms, each with double glazed doors to the conservatory. There is a well-lit studio or possible 3rd. bedroom with a sloping ceiling, with windows to the garden, and glazed doors to the conservatory, and a stair up to a little mezzanine /sleeping gallery, which gives access to a very large attic storage space.

Outside, the 'L' shape of the house encloses a south-facing paved terrace and the tree-shaded garden. There is car parking for two vehicles off the street with space to erect a garage, which at present has a timber-framed transparent roofed wood store.

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