The team behind the timber-clad, grass-roofed techno-home known as the Integer House is to make a start on raising the IQ and lowering the energy bills of the rest of the country’s housing stock.
The Integer Partnership, a combination of architect Cole Thompson and intelligent systems consultant I&I, has carried out a feasibility study for the upgrading of a Westminster council tower block. If it is approved, it could become a pilot project for the refurbishment sector.

To improve the thermal performance of the block, the team recommends the standard solution of overcladding. It also has more unusual proposals, such as a brise-soleil, a canopy around the base to deflect wind and the enclosure of balconies to create conservatories. Its big idea, however, is reserved for the unused roof space. Here, a new floor is proposed to create a sky-lounge and roof garden, offering the block’s primarily elderly and disabled tenants a view of London that is generally available only to penthouse dwellers. The roof could be topped with photovoltaic panels as well as a wind turbine and a technology tower that could give residents broader access to television channels.

Community facilities such as a doctor’s surgery are recommended for the ground floor, and apartments themselves could be reconfigured to create a more varied mix of sizes. The block has four one-bed apartments and four studio apartments on each floor. The latter are not popular with tenants, so Integer is looking at combining studios to create one-and-a-half-bedroom flats and other variations.

Integer has thought of ways to reduce the inconvenience to tenants caused by the refurbishment. One proposal is to add glass lifts to the outside of the building. Once these become operational, alternative uses are proposed for the existing lifts: one could become a dedicated goods lift and the other could be removed and the shaft used as a services riser.

With the feasibility study now complete, Integer’s next task is to look at what technology that could be incorporated into homes by fitting out a demonstration apartment. Although refurbishment may struggle to produce the pristine green product of new build, this upgrading could cut energy use by up to half and reduce CO2 emissions by a similar amount. On a whole-life cost basis, Integer estimates refurbishment could produce a 9% saving in year-on-year costs over standard new build.

In tandem with this project, Integer is looking at running an exhibition in Hong Kong on turning the suburban Integer house into a 40-storey tower.

Itll be alright on the site