Recent Current Projects
 

An Eco Arc practice profile with text from Tony Greenway’s article for the Journal Magazine.

Andrew Yeats' award-winning York-based architectural design practice, Eco Arc, is unique. First of all, it has been known to turn projects away if a client's brief isn't 'green' enough. "We tend to undertake work which has an environmental, spiritual or social focus," says
Andrew. "We set out our stall some time ago and said: 'This is what we believe in - and these are the jobs we like to do.'"

Secondly - and rather refreshingly - Eco Arc is a firm where money isn't the be all and end all. "We don't do commercially driven work,"  explains Andrew. "Obviously any building has to pay for itself, earn its keep and be a good investment for the client. But the primary objective isn't about making money."

 

Eco Arc has been at the forefront of environmentally friendly architectural design for the best part of two decades. The practice's impressive portfolio features a host of energy-efficient new builds and conversions, including The York Environmental Education Centre at St Nicholas Fields; The National Trust's Gibson Mill Centre near Hebden Bridge; a selection of Buddhist monasteries; and David Johnson's pioneering, award-winning Eco House in Wales (the first house in Britain dependent on renewable energy and the winner of  the Daily Telegraph Ecological House of the Year Award).

 
Currently, the Eco Arc team - including Andrew's business (and life) partner Lucinda Nelson, and architect Eric Parks - is gearing up to build the Royal Horticultural Society's new learning centre and library at Harlow Carr
in Harrogate.
 

"The normal conception of how a building works is 'resources are consumed and waste products are the outcome'," says Andrew. "That's a one-way stream. Whereas our conception of how a building works is cyclical: that is, resources are carefully and conscientiously consumed and the by-products are recycled." That, explains Andrew, is a 'close-loop' system, and therefore much more environmentally friendly. Ultimately, the design should also be carbon neutral and produce more resources than it consumes.

 

Yet as Dick Strawbridge pointed out recently in his hit BBC2 series of the same name: It's Not Easy Being Green. That's because in the past, says Andrew, a lot of 'eco-architecture' was characterised by good engineering... but bad design. "For us, the trick is to make beautiful
buildings which transcend reality and take people to another place in terms of an (aesthetic) experience. But there also has to be a 'feel-good' factor in terms of performance, so that the buildings we design make a positive contribution to society and the environment. Getting all of those elements working in one place and one time gives us a real buzz. There's a lot of satisfaction in this job."

 

Eco Arc's important work hasn't gone unnoticed. In April, the practice was celebrating the biggest honour in business: winning The Queen's Award for Enterprise. "We got it for our modest contribution to sustainable development," says Andrew. "It's a great thing to win - and it adds credibility to a subject which, previously, was considered to be a bit 'on the fringe'."

 

Not any more. These days, we all want to be green. As Andrew points out, it's rare to see a modern building brief, which doesn't mention sustainability. So when did we reach the turning point?

 

"I think through the Eighties and Nineties our business was on the left field of architecture," admits Andrew. "We were only working with committed ecology enthusiasts. But since the turn of the Millennium, eco-architecture is very mainstream. And, as a business, we're now working with the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society. Clearly people recognise that the environment is a very big issue."

 

Andrew has always recognised its importance. But it was as a student, while writing his thesis at Manchester Metropolitan University, that he was offered a once-in-a-lifetime design experience which he couldn't turn down. "I was studying a site at Findhorn in Scotland," says Andrew. "This was 35-acres of land, full of caravans, which was to be turned into a village of permanent, ecologically sound buildings."

 

But instead of simply visiting the place and writing about it, Andrew went one better.  He decided to live there. "I went to Findhorn as an academic, originally," he says. "But, very quickly, it became apparent that this was a real-life, busy project that was constantly evolving - and the people running the place needed an on-site architect who would work closely with them. They'd had architects from California fly in and fly out again, but I told them I could stay. This was in the days of funding for students so I was,
basically, a free agent. And as long as I could get my qualifications from doing something hands-on, I was happy."

 

In all, Andrew lived in Findhorn from 1986 to 1992 as sole resident architect. "We'd create designs and drawings in the morning," he smiles, "and then we'd build them in the afternoon. It felt like an Amish barn-building project."

 

At the time, the buildings at Findhorn were the most energy-efficient in Britain. It's a job close to Andrew's heart, and one he's still working on 20 years later. "We're creating eight-sided houses now," he says. "It's a lifetime's project, really."

 

Eco Arc was born in 1986 during Andrew's time at Findhorn. "It sounds a bit cheesy now, but ecology was like the Noah's Ark of architecture; the saving grace of the disaster we were facing. And the name was short for 'Ecological Architecture'. So it stuck."

 

Coming back to York to be with Lucinda, Andrew set up a drawing board on his kitchen table and waited for the business to flood in. "I had a naive notion that if I plugged in a phone, it would ring," he says. "And it did, actually. My first commission was to design a Buddhist monastery in Newcastle. I think they'd interviewed various architects who had all worn striped suits and patent leather shoes; whereas II turned up in sandals, had an apple for the abbot, sat cross-legged and told them I'd live there if they wanted."

 

Which is what he did. For three-months, Andrew lived as a monk while working on the designs. "I'd been in Thailand for a while, lived in their main monastery, was keen on meditation and dabbled with being a Buddhist monk. So it was no problem for me." From that commission, Andrew has worked on 15 other monasteries, including a big one in Chithurst, Hampshire.

 

But here's the crunch. Most people think that 'green' design simply means erecting solar panels on the roof and using sustainable timbers here and there. But, as Andrew points out, an ecologically sound building is rather more fundamental than that.

 

"Before all those additional elements come on board," he says, "we start from a very 'low-energy' design strategy which reduces consumption in the fabric of the building to the absolute minimum. So the key starting point for us is 'super-insulation'. We also work with passive systems - passive solar gain, passive cooling, passive warming - ie, systems that are not mechanical." The Eco Arc team also choose materials, which have 'low travel miles' and integral ecological qualities. "And only when we've sorted those things out do we think about producing renewable energy or composting waste or recycling sewerage. Those come at the end. You need to have a robust eco-building to start with... and then tidy up the loose ends."

 

After 20 years and countless prizes, Andrew still gets an enormous kick out of being a ecologically aware architect. "Even though I've been doing this for a long time, there's still a lot to learn," he says. "Each new project has a different site, a different client and a different matrix of ideas to piece together into the best solution. The great thing about architecture is there is no one solution. Everything is a new, creative opportunity."

 

Tony Greenway
Email: tonygreenway@onetel.com

18. Langton House
Was a traditional 2 bedroom stone built village cottage in a conservation area. The works included the addition of two new stone built wings to form a large 5 bedroom family home fronting on to the village green. The transformation from the original small cottage to large family house with natural lime pointed stone and natural slate roofs is almost seamless.

Langton House exterior
Langton House new beamed kitchen
 

19. Leverete Croft
Was a completely dilapidated and rotten timber frame, timber clad 1800’s cabin from Canada. The originally building has been lovingly restored with extensive timber repairs, new insulation to the rebuilt walls and roof and new sheet roofing complete the new shell. The inside has been completely re modelled with new bathrooms, kitchens and the replacement of all surfaces. A new wood stove in the living rooms provides space heating and the field tertiary pond receives outfall from the sewage settlement tank.

Leverete Croft cedar clad exterior
Leverete Croft rennovated interior
 

20. Market Weighton Medical & Social Primary Care Centre
Is a low energy / low carbon energy efficient building. The naturally ventilated surgery will be heated by a ground source heat pump and the building includes a bio diverse green roof top staff garden. Facilities will include consulting rooms, a dentist, social services provision, a pharmacy /dispensary and a Macmillan Cancer palliative care centre.    

Artist's impression of Market Weighton medical centre
 

21. Mike & Julian Nelson’s House
Is a traditional Cumbrian cottage on Hadrian’s Wall a landscape protected by English Heritage. The house was lovingly rebuilt from the foundations upwards with reclaimed sand stone walling and lime pointing. A large extension runs along the back wall and new natural slate roof was added. 

Hayton Gate rebuilt house
 

22.Naworth Castle Estate Housing
In the grounds of Naworth Castle in Cumbria the estate out buildings where partially rebuilt and converted to form 6 cottages with in the fabric of the existing building. Reclaimed sand stone walling and lime pointing was used with a new natural slate roof. 

Naworth Castle Estate Housing
 

23. Norfolk Eco House
Is a Georgian styled eco house in a conservation village with the houses set around the village duck pond. The eco house is a traditional sash and case windowed double fronted rendered façade facing the village green. A passive solar heavily glazed façade with huge French doors opens up to the back garden. The building fabric behind the traditional design is super insulated. Bamboo floors provide a warm natural finish though out to the under floor heating. 

New Eco House viewed from across the village pond
 

24. Permaculture House
Tim and Maddy Harland (editors of the Permaculture Magazine) asked us to knock together two cottages and transform a leaking flat roof double storey extension in to eco retrofit project following the principles of Permaculture design. The north facing knapped flint and stone front façade was retained. The south façade was transformed with a super insulated timber frame passive solar sunspace opening out on to the quarter acre Permaculture garden. Internal planters for growing food-reduced food travel miles down to travel inches from picking to the table. UK home grown larch windows enclose super efficient 1.1 U value glazing. A compost loo was included in the house design and rainwater harvesting provides irrigation to the food crops.

Permaculture House exterior
Permaculture House with interior growing beds
 
25. Sinfield Nature Conservation Trust Centre
Is a grade 2 Listed buildings complex consisting of five oak framed barns converted in to a zero C02 autonomous building project run on renewable Energy. Facilities will include residential accommodation for 16 guests and day time conference facilities for up to 30 people participating in courses related to nature conservation and personal well-being.  The group of eco-retrofitted barns will be linked via a new green oak cloistered walkway around a landscaped courtyard. The project will be powered by an extensive solar photovoltaic panel array located on the roof of an adjacent modern agricultural barn. Heating will be via district heating system powered by a biomass wood pellet boiler. Rainwater harvesting will provide water for the low flush loos. Sewage will be treated on site via a back to land leach field system.   
Sinfield Nature Conservation Trust Centre
 
26. West Field House
Is a traditional Victorian villa property which has been restored in to a comfortable family home including a large kitchen /dining space looking on to the back garden. Super efficient thermal glazing with in built glare control combined with high quality joinery make the family space a joy to live in all year round.
 
West Field Hosue glazed conservatory extension
 
West Field House glazed dining and kitchen space
 
27.Abbots Eco House
Is a Zero C02 Autonomous House Run on Renewable Energy. This is a state of the art partially earth burmed eco house in the Lothersdale Valley incorporating a bio-diverse sedum roof with a fully integrated renewable energy photovoltaic solar roof, with solar hot panels. The green oak structural frame is faced  south facing passive solar façade of triple glazing with natural stone walling to the other elevations. In addition to the integrated PV roof the house will be powered by a 6k/Watt wind turbine and heated via a ground source heat pump under floor heating system within the heavy weight masonry floors. Rainwater harvesting will provide water for the low flush loos. Sewage waste streams will be filtrated back to the land via a raised arch trench system through the sites woodland.
 

28. Amersham Wildlife Centre for the Field Studies Council.
Is A Zero C02 Autonomous Building Run on Renewable Energy. A gently curved south facing passive solar, earth burmed building incorporating a bio-diverse sedum roof with a fully integrated renewable energy photovoltaic solar roof plus with solar hot panels. The timber structural frame is faced south facing passive solar façade of triple glazing with timber frame timber clad. The building is powered by a 6 k/watt Proven wind turbine & solar photovoltaic panels, heated by via under floor heating via a ground source heat pump with the pipes submerged in the wild life pond. The project includes for Rainwater harvesting, and a natural reed bed sewage system.

 
Amersham Wildlife Centre for the Field Studies Council
 

29. Colne Valley Eco House
Is A Zero C02 Autonomous Building Run on Renewable Energy. Is a south facing green oak frame passive solar, earth bermed house incorporating a bio-diverse sedum roof with a fully integrated renewable energy photovoltaic solar roof plus integrated solar hot panels. The green oak structural frame is faced south facing passive solar façade of triple glazing with timber frame in fill timber cladding and natural stone gable walls. Powered by a 6 k/watt Proven wind turbine & solar photovoltaic panels, heated by via under floor heating via a ground source heat pump with the pipes submerged in the adjacent field. The project includes for Rainwater harvesting, and a natural reed bed sewage system.

 
Colne Valley Eco House
 

30. Danby Moors Centre
Is A Zero C02 Autonomous Building Run on Renewable Energy. Is a cultural showcase building for the North York Moors National Park Authority to exhibit local crafts, local food and local art. The building is of straw bale construction incorporating a bio-diverse sedum roof. The heavily glazed south façade includes a fully integrated renewable energy photovoltaic solar roof plus integrated solar hot panels. The building will be heated by via under floor heating via a ground source heat pump with the pipes submerged in the adjacent field. The project includes for rainwater harvesting, and a natural back to the land on site sewage system.

 
Danby Moors Centre Cultural Showcase Building
 

31. David & Jane’s Eco House
David and Jane Shields (owners of Living Water the biological sewage treatment company) commissioned us to design an eco house on spectacular promontory looking out to sea over the Firth of Forth. The central spine green oak frame structure supports the open cathedral roof. A fully glazed gable looks out to sea the other walls are super insulated with recycled newspaper cellulose insulation. 

 
David and Jane's eco house timber frame
 

32. Flaxton Eco House and Eco Cabins Project.
Is A Zero C02 Autonomous Building Complex Run On Renewable Energy.
The project includes for six eco guest cabins and the warden’s eco house all grouped around a large fishing pond. The super insulated cabins are insulated with natural flax insulation. A fully glazed gable opens on to a covered deck over looking the central pond. Natural clay tiles, and natural stained Douglas Fir timber cladding provide a weather shield to the timber frame construction. The warden’s house is earth bermed in to the bank on the north side with a fully integrated passive solar conservatory pre heat buffer space to the south side. The buildings complex is powered by a 6 k/watt Proven wind turbine & solar photovoltaic panels and heated by via under floor heating served by a ground source heat pump with the pipes submerged in the central fishpond. The project includes for Rainwater harvesting, and a natural back to the land raised arch sewage system.      

 
Flaxton eco cabins overlooking the fishing pond
 
Flaxton Eco House
 
34. Belfair's Woodland Resource Centre: 
Is a Zero C02 Autonomous Woodland Education, Management and Leisure Facility for the Essex Wildlife Trust and Southend District Council as part of the Thames Gateway Project. The competition wining building design is to be run on biomass CHP renewable energy.  Including a south facing passive solar design, super insulated  thermal mass structural clay block masonry walls and natural bio diverse sedum roof to the north. Powered by biomass CHP & solar photovoltaic panels, with solar hot water panels with under floor heating. The project includes for rainwater harvesting, and sewage system with in the landscaped gardens.   
 
Belfair's Woodland Resource Centre

 

Pictorial Gallery of Current & Recent Projects

1. Essex Wildlife Trust’s Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Is A Zero C02 Autonomous Building Run on Renewable Energy. A 15-sided south facing passive solar building with super insulated (site made) structural clay block masonry walls. Powered by a 6 k/watt Proven wind turbine & solar photovoltaic panels, heated by via under floor heating a ground source heat pump with the pipes submerged in the wild life pond. The project includes for Rainwater harvesting, and a natural reed bed sewage system   

Artist's impression Abberton Reservoir Centre
Ground floor plan of Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centres

2. Beltingham House
Is a beautiful listed stone building restored to a family home with the addition of a beautiful new western red cedar double glazed passive solar conservatory space. 

New glazed conservatory sun space at Beltingham House
Interior glazed sun space at Beltingham House

3. Clay Hall
Is a very old country house in an area of outstanding natural beauty, which has been lovingly restored with natural materials of the time of its original construction. The project includes the seamless rebuilding of the attached barn with provision for a new library in the roof space formed from a new green oak roof construction.   

Exterior of rennovated Clay Hall
New green oak framed library roof

4. David & Mel’s House
Is a traditional stone built Victorian semi in Glossop, which previously had no relation to the extensive back garden. The new works involved breaking through the chimneybreast to form double door access in to a new open plan dining / sitting garden / conservatory space with bi fold doors that fold right back to bring the garden right in to the heart of the house.

Exterior of passive solar sun space in Glossop
Interior passive solar sun space

5. Driffield Primary Care Doctors Surgery
Is a low energy / low carbon energy efficient building located in a conservation area within a walled garden. The naturally ventilated surgery will be heated by a ground source heat pump and the building includes a bio diverse green roof top staff garden. Facilities will include consulting rooms, community café, social services provision and a pharmacy /dispensary.    

Artists;s impression of Driffield Primary Care Centre

6. Faith’s House
Is a large stone built Yorkshire family home, which has been considerably extended with a  seamless extension, including a new ground floor living room opening up to the back garden with a large master suite bedroom, dressing room and en-suite upstairs.

The Faith's rennovated and exended exterior

7. Four Gables
Is a beautifully hand crafted arts and craft Cumbrian home designed by the famous architect Philip Web. The house has been lovely maintained and sensitively repaired. New works include the design of 3 bedroom stone cottage in the grounds with details inspired by the original house design.

Four Gables viewed across the pond

8. Glebe House
Is a traditional Yorkshire double fronted village house, which has been fully restored from a dilapidated state. New works included the addition a large rear wing incorporating a new living room with French doors opening out on to the garden and master bedroom suite upstairs.

Glebe House rennovated exterior
Glebe House new rear extension

9. Gorton’s St Francis Monastery
Is a grade 1 listed gothic cathedral scaled building designed by the famous architect EW Pugin in 1860’s as the Monastery of St Francis. The monastery has been lovely restored by the Gorton Trust community group and new design works include unravelling of the sacred geometry of the original building to rebuild the Friary and inspire the design of a new courtyard housing 28 retreat rooms, holistic health suites, restaurant, café, and community shops around a three storey glazed atrium passive solar sun space. The project is aiming to be carbon neutral urban development.

Gorton Monastery east elevation

10. Grange Barn
Is a modest barn and cow shed located on the village green which has been sensitively converted and extended in to a new home, with a double height glazed roof space over the staircase opening on to a beautifully landscaped walled garden. 

Grange Barn conversion

11. Royal Horticultural Society:  Learning Library Education Centre at Harlow Car Harrogate
Is a Zero C02 Autonomous Building Run on Renewable Energy. Including a south facing passive solar conservatory, super insulated (site made) structural clay block masonry walls and natural bio diverse sedum roof to the north. Powered by an 18-k/ watt Proven wind turbine & solar photovoltaic panels, heated by a ground source heat pump via under floor heating. The project includes for rainwater harvesting, and natural reed bed sewage system with in the landscaped gardens.  

Harlow Carr Learning Centre and Library Exterior
Harlow Carr double height entrance reception

12. Hilary & Tony’s House
Is a traditional Yorkshire double fronted village house, which has been fully restored. New works included the addition a heavily glazed rear wing incorporating a new kitchen / dining room  with two sets of French doors opening out on to the garden.

Exterior of garden room extension
Interior of dining and kitchen extension

13. Howbeck House
Is a large stone built Yorkshire family home, which has been considerably extended with a  seamless extension, including a new ground floor living room opening up to the back garden with a two bedrooms on the first floor and a new attic play room up in the roof space attic.

Howbeck renovated and extended house

14. Howsham Mill: Renewable Energy Hydro Centre
Is a Zero C02 Autonomous Building Run on Renewable Energy. The original building is a beautiful grade 2 listed Georgian folly located on a small island in the River Derwent (without any road or vehicle access) which is designated as a European SSSI. It was built in c 1755 and is attributed to the famous architect John Carr. The Renewable Heritage Trust community group bought the completely dilapidated building and now we have planning permission and listed building consent to fully restore the existing building as an environmental education centre. The project includes for the installation of three hydroelectric turbines including reinstatement of the water wheel and two innovative Hydrodynamic   screw turbines plus a integrated photovoltaic solar slate roof to produce over 75k/watts of renewable electricity. The renewable energy out put will produce enough energy to power the 40 houses in the village of Howsham. Other works include rainwater harvesting, and a dry compost loo with a back to the land leach field for all grey water outputs.  

Howsham Mill Renewable Energy Hydro Centre

15. Ian & Rosalyne Harland’s House
Is a Zero C02 Autonomous House Run on Renewable Energy. This is a fantastic state of the art eco house on the Isle of Man incorporating a fully integrated renewable energy photovoltaic roof, with solar hot panels and a glazed atrium. The green oak structural frame is clothed in a south facing passive solar façade of triple glazing with natural stone walling to the other elevations. In addition to the integrated PV roof the house is powered by a 6k/Watt wind turbine and heated via a ground source heat pump with the internal air temperature regulated by an innovative blown air ‘Air economy‘ system through the fabric of the heavy weight masonry floors. Sewage waste streams will be filtrated back to the land via a raised arch trench system through the sites woodland.

New eco house for Mr and Mrs Harland on the Isle of Man

16. Ward’s Orangery & Glass House
The original buildings are a totally dilapidated and collapsing grade 2 listed stone built arch glazed Orangery and timber frame glasshouse set with a landscaped walled garden. The project consists of the rebuilding of the glasshouse and the sensitive restoration of the orangey to their former splendour and elegance. Frost protection and back ground heating for growing food will be via a ground source heat pump powered by a photovoltaic solar electric array. 

Traditional glass house design drawings

17. Janet Williams' House
Is modest two bedroom, timber frame, timber clad, super insulated house on the site of a former chalet in North Wales. The house includes sheep’s wool insulation and locally sourced welsh slate roof, home grown Douglas fir cladding and locally sourced welsh slate internal floors with under floor heating.

Janet Williams' timber frame timber clad eco house
33. Saltburn Artists Eco Workshops.
Set in the Italian Gardens of Saltburn the project included building a children’s visitor centre for the gardens and designing a series of flexible workspace / artist studios. The workspaces are timber frame and timber clad construction with large south facing doors opening on to a outdoor sculpture courtyard.  The walls and roof are super insulated with recycled newspaper cellulose insulation. 
Saltburn Artists eco workshops

35. Gunners Park Heritage Centre: 
Is a Zero C02 autonomous facility for the Essex Wildlife Trust and Southend District Council as part of the Thames Gateway Project.

The building design is run on renewable energy. A round south facing passive solar building with super insulated structural clay block masonry walls. Powered by a 6 k/watt Proven wind turbine & solar photovoltaic panels, heated by via under floor heating a ground source heat pump with the pipes submerged in the wild life pond. The project includes for Rainwater harvesting, and a natural reed bed sewage system   

Gunners Park Heritage Centre
         
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