Bloom Court, Livingston


Project Lead

Julie Bregulla, Hanover Housing Association

Key Project Team Members

Alan Campbell ECD Architects, MEARU


Housing Association, Scotland, Low Energy Homes, Elderly and Ambulant Housing

Project Description

The project is located at Bloom Court, within the conservation area of Livingston village. It is adjacent to Hanover Court, a sheltered housing scheme also owned by Hanover Housing Association (HHA). The site occupies some 0.11 hectares, and is surrounded by other Hanover sheltered houses to the north with small business units in a former steading to the south. Pedestrian access runs along the north and west boundaries. There is no direct vehicular access to any of the houses, but dedicated parking is located to the east side.

The development consists of six 1/½ storey houses designed for flexibility of operation. Most facilities are self-contained at ground floor level, with the provision of two bedrooms and a second toilet within the roof area, allowing accommodation for family members, carers, etc. The scheme was designed as a terrace, with a low profile and finish sympathetic with the neighbouring sheltered housing. The buildings have a ‘traditional' character, with tile and render finishes. The client was keen to explore a low energy, sustainable solution with lightweight materials of low embodied energy in their manufacture and construction. The building was to be well sealed but breathable.

Building Description

The building design took a fabric first approach with breathable wall construction. It is constructed from well understood timber frame technology on a concrete site slab. Externally, the wall structure is sheathed with Natural Building Technologies (NBT) ‘Diffutherm' wood fibre. This high density, breathable sheathing is created with wood pulp and water, heated to allow the wood lignins to act as glue, then compressed. This is rendered with a NBT thin coat breathable render on fibreglass mesh, coated with a breathable paint.  The frames are

filled with Isonat Hemp/Cotton insulation and faced internally with 9mm particle board for vapour and racking control.

The roof is conventionally tiled on battens on 60mm ‘Pavatherm Plus' sheathing from NBT. Pavatherm Plus is similar to Diffutherm, but with the addition on inert waterproofing agents.  As with diffutherm, the boards are tongue and grooved for tight construction, with the use of the manufacturer's approved ‘Pavatape' to ensure air tightness at cuts and penetrations. The rafters are filled between with 150mm Hemp/Cotton insulation. A breather paper is fixed across the underside of the rafters for vapour control, then faced with plasterboard on battens.   Windows are high performance timber, glazed with 4/16/4 argon filled, low ‘e' coated units. Velux roof lights supply light to the upper rooms. The upper hallway is supplied with natural light via a tubular ‘sun-pipe'.

The dwellings are naturally ventilated and heating and hot water are supplied by high efficiency gas boilers.  Room thermostats, timers and TRVs are installed to control the heating and hot water.  Extract fans are installed in the downstairs and upstairs bathrooms.  Low energy lighting has been installed throughout.  Solar thermal or PV panels can be installed at a later date if required but have not been incorporated so far. 

Study Content

The study will contain the following elements: -

·         Assessment of Energy Use and Environmental conditions including CO2, Temperature and Humidity Measurements

·         Building User Feedback and evaluation of building handover and maintenance arrangements

·         Success of the dwellings as accommodation for elderly and disabled occupants

·         Success of the buildings as low maintenance, low energy homes with breathable construction.

·         Building Fabric Testing – U-values, Air Tightness, Co-heating Test, Thermography

Building Data

Floor Area = 108m2

SAP Rating = B3 (83)

U-Values (as designed)

Walls - 0.22W/m2K

Roof - 0.20W/m2K


3.7 m3/h.m2