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Runswick Bay beach house cont...
The building was in a poor state of neglect. It hadn’t been touched for decades and wood chip wallpaper seemed to be literally holding the plaster in place on the walls. All the internal hardwood doors needed to come out, the windows were virtually rotten and the floors were stuck with lino.
Andrew and Lucy initially stripped the property back to a shell, hiring a farm labourer and his uncle to work on site. They demolished the interior with sledge hammers and removed all the rubbish – which had to be barrowed along a narrow path and up a set of steep steps - in the back of a transit van. ‘It was the biggest vehicle we could get up the narrow road to the back of the house,’ said Andrew. Rubble from an outside bathroom, which was also knocked down, was taken off-site in similar fashion and a decked area pulled apart because it was rotten.
With the building open and bare, apart from the load bearing walls, Andrew and Lucy could begin to rebuild the property in a way which made the most of its prominent cliff-side position and glorious views. They knew that by rebuilding most of the internal walls they could create the three individual properties they wanted, and still meet the planners’ approval.
‘It took about eight months to get planning permission, but during that time we were doing all the demolition work so it tied in quite well,’ said Andrew. ‘I have to say that the planners in the North York Moors National Park Authority were fantastic. They could see that we were going to transform the place for the better.’
Dining space
The lowest levels were tanked but the section reserved for Andrew and Lucy’s own use incorporates two former bedrooms knocked into one large living area. An outside balcony was also incorporated into this open plan room and Argon-filled double glazed to create a south-facing, all-year-round sun-trap.
‘We wanted a completely glazed wrap-around, but this wasn’t allowed – although we could have a glazed corner with roof lights, bi-fold doors and railings,’ said Andrew. ‘We changed things as we went along, rather than stick to a grand plan. The challenges came with the detail. It didn’t help that none of the walls in the building were straight.’
In fact one internal wall had to be rebuilt three times before Andrew and Lucy were happy with it.
‘We wanted to build a wall between the children’s bedroom and our own, so that there was enough room for bunk beds in one and a double bed in the other – but space was really tight,’ said Andrew. ‘We couldn’t achieve what we wanted with a straight, vertical wall, so it had to go in on a lean, following the slant of the window. The room is now like a vertical wedge.’
Bedroom space
‘We boarded the ceiling to emphasise the coastal location,’ said Andrew. ‘We bought the cheapest, rough sawn white wood, lightly sanded it to remove the coarseness then white-washed them in Farrow & Ball Pointing. We left gaps between the boards to create shadows.’
With the basic structure completed, Andrew and Lucy concentrated on the details – a galley kitchen, a timber mezzanine sleeping area, a secret bunk bed and a steep staircase, which opens into the living area and instant views across the sea.
‘We keep it as uncluttered as possible so everything focuses on the beach hut look inside and the fabulous view beyond,’ said Andrew. ‘We rent it out in the summer months, between May and September, but in the winter we keep it for ourselves and come up here as much as we can. In stormy weather you feel as though you are on the bow of a ship with the rain lashing down and the waves pounding below, and on a sunny day we open up the windows and soak up the heat in the privacy of our own space. It certainly has the potential to move your spirit, just by being here. For me, it’s as good as it gets.’’
By Heather Dixon Pix by David Burton

In 2007 we have taken possession of an old Cumbrian farm house with two attached barns at the head of beautiful Kentmere Valley near Kendal in the Lake District National Park.

High Fold house and design studio barns
Setting up a new design studio in Cumbria will give us  easier access to the west side of the country and will reduce the travel distances up to our projects in Scotland. We are currently seeking planning permission to convert the house and barns to form new design studio as an eco retrofit Zero C02 autonomous project run on renewable energy.
High Fold House
We are looking to super insulate the existing buildings, triple glaze the existing windows and provide space heating via a biomass boiler fuelled from the careful woodland management of the existing trees on the site. Electricity will come from a mixed portfolio of micro-hydro generation, a small domestic 2.5k/watt Proven wind turbine and a photovoltaic array mounted on the south facing studio roof. Potable water will be extracted from the mountain spring, non potable water will be sourced from rain harvesting and all sewage will be treated on site via a settlement tank and reed bed pond to a back to the land leach field. 
Kentmere church viewed from High Fold
Eco Arc’s Environmental Office Management cont...

Although Eco Arc is a relatively small scale environmental design consultancy we are working towards the adoption of the standards set out in the ISO 14001 quality assurance certification. We have a rigorous in house environmental management policy in place to ensure consistent high quality is achieved on each and every project. In summery at the beginning of each new project we set out a method statement with the following key management tools:


Project Aims:  The typical aims of our method are to use clear and systematic ways of enabling innovative, creative and sustainable solutions to be delivered efficiently and effectively. To meet and exceed the project needs and aspirations. To ensure that the project is delivered on time and with in budget.


Key Project Features: To achieve these aims, every stage of our method is underpinned by:  careful planning and programming. Rigorous monitoring with regular and clear reporting. Effective communication between all parties Method Statement: Our method statement is set out in four main areas: General methods and approaches – these are systems and activities which run across several or all project stages including a.) Project systems – (charter, risk, critical path programme.)  b.) Cost control. c.) Change control and d.) Sustainability Assessment.


Project Systems: Prior to formally commencing phase 1 of the service we put in place a number of key initiatives designed to ensure that the project has a firm foundation and is able to progress smoothly and effectively.


Project Charter: We hold a review of the project with the client and all design team members. The purpose of this review is to develop a shared understanding of the aims and aspirations of the project and all parties. Issues addressed include: innovation, educational and functional requirements. Design quality, construction and procurement issues. Environmental and sustainability Targets. Construction budget, maintenance and lifecycle budgets. The out come of this review is expressed in a Project Charter which sets out the key aspirational aims and objectives agreed and is signed up to by all parties. The charter is a key reference document, against which progress and success is monitored and reviewed.


Change Control: Alongside cost unplanned change to the brief or deign is the other major risk to a projects success. We run a system of project ‘ sign offs’ at key stages to ensure that the designs and costs for one stage are fully agreed prior to commencing the next stage. This is linked to a system of ‘change control’, which ensures that any proposed change to the design during the next stage is assessed, costed, discussed and agreed, prior to being implemented and recorded.


Sustainability Assessments: Since its inception Eco Arc has been a catalyst for the integration of sustainability concepts early in the design process working closely with other project team members to develop a coherent sustainability strategy.   

Eco Arc is a specialist team providing practical solutions to enhance the social and environmental sustainability performance of building projects. Our in house systems champion sustainable initiatives that produce real strategies and workable concepts. Initial cost benefit analysis and whole life economic or environmental costings are can be applied to give clients and building users the tools to make informed decisions.
Our design process concentrates on identifying energy-saving opportunities and provides advice on environmental impact of material selection, such as comparative embodied energy analysis. Working with team partners and using research tools such as ENVEST we are able to track and direct the environmental impact of material selection during design development. Working with others we use BREEAM and Ecohomes assessment tools to assess the environmental performance of new and existing buildings. Both systems are independent and reliable, based on extensive construction and environmental research by BRE and are recognised as ‘’the best’’ assessment systems within the UK construction.  

Eco Arc’s Design Studios & Quality Assurance Page

go to Eco Arc’s Environmental Office Management

In 1992 we moved the practice from the Findhorn Eco Village studio in Moray Scotland to set up a new design studio in The Old Village School in Harton York in North Yorkshire. After a two year self build process we managed to convert the completely dilapidated old school building in to a new family home and new design studio.


The Eco Arc design studios, Harton
Glazed conservatory meeting room
The Eco Arc office
Timber seating deck south of office space
Old Village School before the conversion works
Runswick Bay beach house
In 2002 we took possession of a completely dilapidated wing an a old tearoom and hotel in Runswick Bay in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park on the beach 8 miles north of Whitby. We have carried out a self build conversion in to create a second Eco Arc design studio and beach house for holiday letting. The beach house is available for letting through the web site (soon to be live). www Emma add web address and web link  …


Kitchen dining space towards corner window

The text commentary below on Runswick Bay Beach House Studio Project conversion project is edited from Heather Dixon’s magazine article ‘In Move and Improve Magazine’ Spring 2007


‘’As an impulse buy, the dilapidated old property leaning against the cold North-Easterly winds in Runswick Bay could have been a disaster.


Lucy Nelson and Andrew Yeats had already gone £5,000 over budget to clinch the deal at auction – after frantic bidding above their baby’s screaming – and the building was in such a poor state of repair that they would have to spend a small fortune to make it habitable.


To cap it all, architects Andrew and Lucy wondered whether they had finally met their match when they still couldn’t make their plans work for the property after 150 drawings.


‘I had always assumed that we would split the property vertically into two, each with three storeys,’ said Andrew. ‘Then a friend came along to see it and suggested we split it horizontally into three, and from that moment on it all fell into place. We would let out two and keep one to use ourselves.’

Main living space towards mezzanine bed loft

Until 1953 the property had been used as a hotel with a tearoom and was a focal point in the tiny coastal village, set on a hillside directly overlooking the sea near Whitby.


It was this view across the bay, which ‘sold’ it to Andrew and Lucy. ‘Everything felt completely right,’ said Andrew. ‘I love this part of the country. In my teens I used to come to Runswick Bay, sleep on the beach in a tent, have a swim and eat fish and chips. I think of it as my spiritual home – my idea of Heaven. But it was a very spontaneous purchase. We were actually looking for a house in Cumbria and couldn’t find anything, then Lucy spotted this place for sale and, within a week, we’d bought it.’


At the auction, they agreed a top price that they wouldn’t exceed and that Lucy would hold their baby daughter, Iona, while Andrew did the bidding. Arriving late, they pushed their way through a crowd of 150 people and sat on the floor at the front. As the bidding became increasingly frantic, Iona sensed the tension and started to scream. Passing her to Andrew, Lucy took over the bidding.


‘She was nodding away like Billy-Oh and after another £30,000 I wondered what the heck we’d done, but Lucy was determined!’ said Andrew. ‘We had our absolute limit – but still went over by £5,000.’


Andrew and Lucy renovated the property as a single project, which Lucy managed by traveling from their home near York, with baby Iona, on a regular 80-mile round trip.
‘It was quite a feat,’ said Andrew. ‘She would feed Iona in the back of the car and then organise 10 builders to move a wall.’


Runswick bay view from the sea
Eco Arc’s Environmental Office Management

We try to practice what we preach in or own lives and in the way we run the business, in addition to the sustainable design services we provide for clients. We try to lead by example.  Staff members cycle 6 to 7 miles to work rather than use their private cars. If vehicles are required for business use where cycles or public transport are not feasible office pool cars are used which run on Zero CO2 recycled vegetable oil.


The practice is based in a self-built new low energy super insulated office with insulation in the roof, walls and floors at twice the depth required by building regulations. Recycled brick walls and a recycled clay pan tile roof form the main office structure. Highly efficient low E argon filled insulating glazing provides good day lighting avoiding the use of electric light. The low energy lighting units and other office electric consuming equipment are powered from Zero CO2 wind turbine renewable energy via Juice Energy. A highly efficient Zero CO2 bio mass wood-burning stove provides space heating in the office conservatory.


All office waste paper is reused and recycled. Computer printer consumables are recycled and cartridges refilled rather than replaced with new products. Lunchtime kitchen wastes are composted and returned to the office garden. Rainwater off the roof is collected and recycled via a pond with a solar powered fountain. 


The office staff structure is flat and non-hierarchical, with an open and transparent filing admin system. We share an open plan office and share all office tasks equally. The principle partner (Andrew) cleans the toilets, cleans the office, empties the rubbish recycling bins and makes the tea for other staff twice a day.


Although Eco Arc is a relatively small scale environmental design consultancy we are working towards the adoption of the standards set out in the ISO 14001 quality assurance certification. We have a rigorous in house environmental management policy in place to ensure consistent high quality is achieved on each and every project. In summery at the beginning of each new project we set out a method statement with the following key management tools:


Risk Register: We establish an online risk register. This is a living document in which any party can record potential risks to the progress and success of the project. Alongside each risk, proposed actions to avoid or mitigate risk is set out together with identification of which party, or parties, take responsibility for the proposed action. The register would be kept under constant review and discussed at progress meetings.  


Critical Path Programme:  A programme covering the actions of all parties and identifying key project milestones is established and agreed. The aim is to ensure that all parties know what they need to do when.


Project Communication and Reporting System: Points of contact, lines and methods of communication and reporting timescales are agreed, with the aim of ensuring that communication between parties is clear and effective.


Cost Control System: We recognise that one of the biggest risks to any project is cost over run. We go beyond our contractual requirements to provide information for cost planning and cost estimating during all stages of work and seek a to establish a proactive relationship with the project QS in which developing design ideas is tested against cost viability, as part of an interactive process.


Professional Code of Conduct:

As RIBA Chartered Architects and a registered practice we have signed up to and strictly adhere to the Royal Institute of British Architects Professional Code of Conduct.

three principles of professional conduct 1. Honesty & integrity, 2.  Competence   3. Good Relationships.

professional values that support those principles.

Guidance Notes that explain how the principles can be upheld.

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High Fold with view towards Kentmere valley
Wakefield web design by Efdesign