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The House That Kevin Built

Published 15 October 2010

Brighton and Hove City Council has granted planning permission for the University of Brighton to rebuild The House That Kevin Built, a house of the future that captivated millions of TV viewers who watched its construction.

The house was erected in London's Docklands live on Thames TV in six days in 2008 for Channel 4's Grand Designs Live and was heralded as the UK's first low-energy prefabricated house made from eco-friendly materials.

The House That Kevin Built

The House That Kevin Built

The house was later dismantled but the concept is being reborn in the courtyard of the university's Faculty of Arts in Grand Parade, Brighton.

Kevin McCloud, the British designer who presented the TV programme, is backing the idea along with Brighton & Hove City Council and the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the construction industry's research and consultancy organization.

He said: "I'm very pleased that the University of Brighton is committed to exploring new low-carbon methods of building. It's exciting to think that the campus could have its own practical demonstration building and I'm delighted to be connected to the university through this innovative piece of construction."

The house will be built with cutting edge methods and materials to the point where the structure captures more carbon than it uses and cuts out waste.

Walls, for instance, will be made with panels filled with straw bales to keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. The house will be regularly evaluated and new research will provide improved techniques and materials for the house over its predicted five to ten-year lifespan.

Professor Stuart Laing, the University of Brighton's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: "The house will be a working exhibit for people to view but it will also be a place for children, youth clubs and adults to meet, talk and learn about environmental issues, healthy living, reducing the use of carbon, and tackling climate change.

"It will be for university and community use as an experimental venue for research, student workshops, conferences, exhibitions and events that would draw the city and the university together around a shared concern for a more sustainable city."

The house was designed by architect Duncan Baker-Brown, a senior lecturer in architecture at the university and also a director of BBM Sustainable Design. He is now working with Kevin McCloud, Dr Catherine Harper, head of the university's School of Architecture and Design, and Anne Boddington, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, to give the house its new home.

A planning application has been submitted to the city council. Duncan is working with the university's Development and Alumni office to find the supporters who are needed to help raise £300,000 required to build the house.

Professor Laing said: "This is an exciting project that we hope will become an example for sustainable construction around the UK and one that will produce far-reaching benefits for the university and the community as a whole. If all goes to plan, work on building the house could begin next Easter."

Duncan Baker-Brown said: "As a university, we are a signatory to the 10:10 campaign to reduce carbon emissions by 10 per cent and we have also set a target to reduce our overall emissions by 50 per cent in five years – this project will act as a beacon to show how these kinds of reductions can be achieved.

The university's development manager, Andrew Scanlan, said: "We hope construction companies, DIY businesses, environment groups, energy firms and individuals will join with us in this project with donations – and all donations to the university are eligible for both Gift Aid and the government's matched funding scheme. This means that every pound we receive is worth nearly twice as much to the university, at no extra cost to our supporters."

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For more details, including how to support the project, go to

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Contact: Marketing and Communications, University of Brighton, 01273 643022


Kevin McCloud and Duncan Baker-Brown

Kevin McCloud and Duncan Baker-Brown