Cedar House

COCOON Architects, Suffolk, 2021



Photos by Matthew Smith Architectural Photography     Download Original

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Client’s aspiration: exciting yet economic new home in the countryside, low embodied energy and running costs, natural materials where possible, constructed by them as self-builders, restricted budget.

Delightful setting. Proposals required to help ‘outdoorsy’ clients engage with garden and countryside. Context demanded low-profile and sympathetic, while clients aspired for drama and excitement when viewed externally and internal volumes. Brief and context suggested passively designed property. Clients recognised ‘Passivhaus’, feared it for it’s perceived high cost and added complications. Passivhaus ‘5 pillars’ discussed briefly concept design meetings, guiding rationalisation of the form, supported strategic decisions around glazing extents and positions, inspired ownership of the construction process to deliver high-quality product. Simple ‘wedge-like’ form delivers sense of stealth and privacy on the approach, facing neighbouring properties. Low￾profile creates compression when entering the property, rising away as you enter the vaulted open-plan spaces. Once inside, interconnected volumes are presented: vaulted kitchen; staircase with rooflight over drawing the eye upwards; picture-frame window to the new pond; sliding and corner glazing to the living area providing almost panoramic views. Restrained building form simplified construction process, reducing complication, labour and material wastage, while enabling excellent levels of air tightness to be achieved (1.0ach/hr). Prefabricated timber panel package (above slab/plinth) supplied with all cavity-fill mineral wool insulation (300mm), internal air tightness membranes and tapes / sealants, plus external breather membranes. Prefabrication accelerated construction, reduced site waste, supported excellent air tightness. Western red cedar shingles selected for all walls and roof coverings for cost, simplicity for self-builders, and reduced the embodied carbon. Material creates subtle but striking object in the landscape, silvering beautifully. Original budget of £300k. Eventual spend £350k. Increased insulation levels, triple glazing, air tightness aspirations, the inclusion of an MVHR, all agreed during early fabric-first conversations. Total energy consumption in use 44kWh/m2/yr.


  • Begun: Sep 2019
  • Completed: Aug 2021
  • Floor area: 170m2
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £350,000
  • Funding: Client funded
  • Tender date: Sep 2019
  • Procurement: Self Build
  • Address: Suffolk, IP24, United Kingdom