The Clay Retreat

The client’s Japanese heritage and our love of Japanese architecture and tradition have heavily influenced our design work. Modulation of light and shadow creates a series of spaces filled with serenity, in tune with the natural world, restorative to the senses and emotional wellbeing.

Project & Environmental Data

Project Info

  • Location: New Forest, Hampshire
  • Cost: £713,000
  • Designation: National Park, Conservation Area
  • Collaborators: Belmore Building, Enhabit, Purrmetrix, Clayworks, Spectrum Architectural Glazing, Vastern Timber, R Hemsorth & Son, Orluna, Allgood
  • Image Credit: Jim Stephenson

Environmental Data

  • Energy Efficiency
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Insulation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Thermal Mass
  • Airtightness
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Solar PV
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Embodied Carbon
  • Heating/Hot Water
    Electric Gas Ground Source Air Source
  • Solar Thermal
    Yes No
  • Rain Water Harvest
    Yes No
  • Ventilation
    MVHR Natural
  • Energy Storage
    Yes No

"The project was our first time working with architects and the whole family enjoyed the experience, even the dog! Wendy, Ricky and the team are very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and full of inspiring and unusual ideas. Their thoughtfulness and calmness got us through the challenging time in 2020 and we now have a restful and fun family home in the forest that we love."

. . . Private Client . . .

Clay plaster used throughout, creates a tactile surface and a softness to the interior that makes you want to reach out and touch the walls. An added bonus, the clay absorbs toxins and pollen from the air, offering a naturally low carbon alternative to gypsum plaster. The walls contrast with the crisp polished concrete floor and concrete hearth which reflect light and absorb the sun’s energy during the day, releasing warmth at night when needed, helping to create a comfortable internal temperature.

This is a deliberately modest and sensitively crafted home that embraces its setting, remaining harmonious with the wider landscape.

At PAD studio we care passionately about what we do, good design inspires us and although the role of an architect is bound by professionalism and responsibility, we work hard to ensure that the design process is celebrated and enjoyed by our clients and by us. We are architectural storytellers, and it is essential that every project has a unique storyline that is considerate of the people and place.

For over a decade, we have fully engaged with climate and biodiversity issues, celebrating these challenges as opportunities. We are proud signatories of the Architects Declare network, and the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge and aim to meet net-zero (or better) whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030.

At every turn, the eye catches a detail that has been thoughtfully considered, discussed with our clients and their children and has been painstakingly executed by our team of wonderfully talented builders. Everyone who has worked on this home has enjoyed the process and for us, this joy is encapsulated in the spirit of this place. It is a place of happy repose that cheers and nurtures all who enter.

The design of The Clay Retreat incorporates a fabric first approach as a base strategy. The focus was on high insulation values with triple glazed windows and insulation that wraps the building to minimise thermal bridging and resulting heat loss. The construction is airtight yet breathable to maximise the control of air flow, carefully positioned windows utilise solar heat gain and natural light. Strategically placed openable windows and rooflights can be used for purge ventilation creating natural cross ventilation during times of high solar gain or high occupancy providing cool or freash air.

In addition, mechanical systems support the base strategy with MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery) providing background ventilation and extraction to control CO2 and humidity levels while retaining valuable heat. An ASHP (Air Source Heat Pump) provides an off-grid solution to provide background heating and heating hot water contained in a thermal store. PV’s (Photovoltaic Panels) generate electrical power to off- set the use of the mechanical systems, neutralising their power use. Foul waste is treated on site via the existing treatment plant.

Post-Occupancy (PoE): 4 heat and humidity Sensors and 1 CO2 sensor are installed to capture data on winter heat loss and summer heat gain. We are working with Purrmetrix to collect and process the data. Electricity use is also monitored and set against the data collection to calculate heat loss factors. Thermal imaging will also take place to review the building fabric and thermal bridging details.

A close relationship has been developed with the clients who provide feedback on the building use, performance, and comfort. We are working with them to understand and optimise the building to ensure the mechanical systems are running efficiently. Highly efficient homes are a new building typology, and it is essential that the occupants learn how to live in a very different building.