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ICF Tech - advanced construction technology

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Pine Combe new home constructed and designed to run sustainably using ICF Tech.

Pine Combe, Rowberrow, Somerset

Stunning five-bedroom home providing showcase for sustainable construction

Architect: Simon Corbett

Status: Completed July 2011

A new home in Somerset provides a model of light, open and sustainable design and a showcase for the benefits of ICF construction.

Conceived by architect Simon Corbett, Pine Combe in Rowberrow is strikingly modern in its styling and features spans which only ICF Tech could deliver.

The initial concept for a five-bedroom, basemented family home involved extending and reconfiguring an existing 1800 sq ft bungalow on a site in School Lane in the picturesque village of Rowberrow, just 15 miles from Bristol.

But with the backing of Sedgemoor Council the team opted to demolish the existing dwelling. This gave the architect and client the freedom to fulfil their vision for a family home with wide open internal and external spaces to match the open views which the plot commands.  Even so, restrictions in the permissible scale of the new build – it could not exceed the ridge height of the existing bungalow – presented a challenge in creating the 3100 sq ft, five bedroom three bathroom configuration.

Pine Combe, a large detached home under construction using the ICF Tech system.

Going underground

The solution was to create a basement to provide the sleeping accommodation and to put the open plan living space on the upper, ground level floor.  This brought into play two aspects of the project which help define its sustainable characteristics.

ICF construction is increasingly widely accepted as a mainstream building method and is especially suitable for basemented buildings, because of its strength and its resistance to water ingress below ground level. The decision to go ICF, working with leading UK company ICF Tech, opened up other design possibilities which Simon turned distinctly to his advantage, maximising useable floor space and featuring a bottom cord-free exposed internal roof pitch to create the vista of openness and light.

Waste not, want not

The levelling of the existing bungalow and the excavation involved in creating the basement area led to a potentially unsustainable situation in which significant amounts of rubble and quarried material would have to be removed from the site.

In the event, only one single truckload of waste was removed from the site during the entire project. Instead, a three metre high gabion wall was created at the bottom of the steeply raked plot and backfilled with material from the basement excavation. With cadmium present in the ground in this area, eliminating the need to remove excavated material from the site was a major plus.

Rubble from the demolition of the original bungalow was crushed on site and used as hardcore for tarmaced areas. Stone excavated to form the basement area was hand-worked on site then used as the natural stone cladding which is a feature of the new home, recessed pointed to create the dry stone appearance characteristic of the region.

Design freedom, total flexibility

Using the ICF Tech system gave the architect all the design freedom he required. The superstructure is constructed of ICFs and a GF steel beam network with beam and block floors. By vertically reinforcing the concrete ICF core from the basement up to create vertical cantilevered walls above ground, the structure provides the strength to allow wide span widths across which a bottom cord-free exposed internal roof pitch was installed.  In the main living space the angled ceiling, rising to 13 feet, combines with full height glazing to create an atrium effect.

Interior of the new detached Pine Combe house built using ICF Tech.Says Simon Corbett: “The only alternative way of achieving this effect would have been to use steel framing which would have required complex junctions with other fabric and the risk of creating cold bridges.  ICF construction provided the strength, flexibility, as well as the speed and ease of construction that we required.”

ICFs also provide excellent U-values which enable architects greater freedom in the use of other elements of house design whilst still adhering to sustainable requirements. The company has demonstrated in other schemes across the UK that ICF Tech walls are capable of achieving U-values of just 0.11 W/m2K, air infiltration of just 0.74 m3/m2/hr @ 50Pa and Y values of as low as 0.016 due to their excellent thermal bridging performance.

The front of Pine Combe, a model for sustainable house construction created using insulating concrete forms from ICF Tech.The architect made extensive use of glazing featuring locally produced timber windows. Floors were constructed in engineered oak as was the feature cantilevered staircase.

With no gas to the site, all space and water heating is provided by an 11KW ground source heat pump. The house also features a bio digestible sewerage system.

Pine Combe provides an excellent showcase for innovative design, using a modern method of construction, in ICF, which does not involve inefficient transportation of pre-fabricated sections, provides outstanding thermal and acoustic performance and offers the kind of design flexibility to create stunning results.

For more information about Simon Corbett architect visit