Scheme Summary

Future World was the third event of its kind to be staged in Milton Keynes and follows closely the tradition of its predecessors - Home World (1982) and Energy World (1986) - in its unique exhibition of state of the art house design and construction. The five Midsummer Cottages, which were sold in the Association's shared ownership scheme, are an innovative demonstration of how social housing can progress to meet the demands of the next century. The design solution tackles the major considerations of:

  • energy efficiency
  • minimising the environmental impact
  • simplicity of build technique
  • flexibility in use to meet changing needs
  • cost effectiveness both for the Association and the resident.

Scheme Details

The five cottages are made up of a mobility bungalow for the elderly, one 2 bedroom house, two 3 bedroom houses and a four bedroom house which are arranged in a single terrace of properties.

Midsummer Housing Association used the predecessor to the BREEAM Environmental Standard as a bench mark.

The construction is a solid brick wall to which has been applied 150mm mineral wool insulation. This gives a wall U value of 0.2. The building is then clad with boarding and render to mask and protect the insulation. The dwellings have gas condensing boilers, triple glazed windows and low energy lighting throughout.

In four of the five units ventilation is achieved by means of mechanical extracts and trickle vents. In the bungalow, however, there is an experimental heat exchange system through a double network of earth tubes within the structure of the building. Using the warmth from the used internal air, the incoming air is pre-heated.

Also in line with the BREEAM Environmental Standard all the basic materials are from sustainable sources, have low embodied energy and contain no CFCs, HCFCs or volatile organic pollutants where possible. Entrance lobbies which help to draught-proof the main entrances to the dwellings contain separate compartments to allow sorting of refuse for recycling. With regards to water consumption all five dwellings have low usage equipment and water butts for rainwater collection. Landscaping is also designed with low run-off characteristics.

As well as incorporating energy efficiency measures, the design has been prepared with a view to producing an approach to construction which does not require highly skilled labour. In order to meet the requirements of flexibility and use to meet the changing needs of residents, none of the internal walls are load bearing and therefore internal layouts are adaptable. The units have also been designed with the ability to accommodate hoists and lifts that may be required for disabled or elderly occupiers.

Cost Implications

The development is financed by a Housing Corporation Grant (HAG), which covers 29% of the cost, a loan from the Nationwide Building Society, 32% of the cost, and the payments received from the shared ownership purchasers, 39% of the overall cost.

The total cost for the scheme is around 9% higher than for an equivalent standard development with no special features. It is, however, within the cost limits currently applied to social housing by the Housing Corporation (TCI).

Although the overall cost is around 9% higher, the return for that extra outlay by the Association results in considerable savings on utility bills for residents.

Midsummer Housing Association's opinion

Midsummer Cottages demonstrate that even if you have to work within the many restrictions of building social housing you can still achieve environmentally friendly, energy efficient homes. We found that the homes sold well on a shared ownership scheme, which indicates that "green" objectives needn't affect marketability. Overall, the cottages have stood the test of three years occupation well. Residents have reported a few problems: for example there have been difficulties with some of the environmentally safe products and materials, which show that more than normal care is needed in both use and maintenance.

An important lesson to learn from a project like this is that even though in theory statistics such as fuel consumption and energy efficiency look impressive, in real life it is difficult to assess monitoring data because of the varying lifestyles of occupants.

Contact: Rachel Jones,
PR Manager,
Midsummer Housing Association,
Henshaw House,
851 Silbury Boulevard,
Central Milton Keynes,
MK9 3JZ.
Tel: 01908 609577
Fax: 01908 609558