The Black House

Mole Architects, Cambridgeshire, 2001


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West side showing the tight site alongside the farmers' field 

John Donat (website)     Download Original

  • West side showing the tight site alongside the farmers    
  • The entrance approach    
  • The east side    
  • The kitchen with window seat and the living room beyond    
  • First floor bedroom towards the architect    
  • The second floor    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Early sketch with different cladding    

Situated on the Fen looking west towards Ely Cathedral the home is distinctive for its deep black corrugated cladding and barn-like quality

The house is oriented east-west with the principal orientation across open fields. A timber-slatted brise-soleil to the ground floor shades windows from low sun, with solar film to first-floor windows preventing overheating. Finishes are generally plastered walls and translucent-stain timber joinery.

On the ground floor, large glazed doors open on to a timber-decked western terrace. Upper floors are reached by a top-lit stair with glass balustrades. These upper floors provide bedrooms plus workrooms.

Black House is on 10m piles, the visible brick piers on pile caps linked by a ring beam of glulam, on which the building sits. With walls of timber I-beams, with recycled newspaper insulation, the house is highly insulated. A heat-pump system with heat recovery provides hot water and warm-air heating, backed up by small panel radiators.


  • Begun: Oct 2001
  • Completed: Dec 2001
  • Floor area: 154m2
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £174,589
  • Tender date: Mar 2001
  • Procurement: Self-build/JCT Minor Works
  • Address: The Black House, Prickwillow, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4UL, United Kingdom

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