Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Eco-home uses medieval technique

The arch design is adapted from a technique first used in the 1300s

A zero-carbon home which borrows from a building style first used more than 600 years ago has been unveiled in Kent.

The design of the four-bedroom house, called Crossways, has been adapted from the technique "timbrel vaulting", used in Catalonia, Spain.

The arched building in Staplehurst is covered with earth and plants and was designed by architect Richard Hawkes.

It has been given zero-carbon status because fossil fuels are not needed to heat it.

'Sustainable building'

According to its designers the large arch provides "great thermal mass, enabling the building to retain heat, absorb fluctuations in temperature and reduce the need for central heating or cooling systems".

The house gets much of its energy from solar panels, has triple-glazed windows and insulation made from recycled newspaper.

The earliest known example of the "timbrel vaulting" technique, which uses thin bricks to create lightweight and durable buildings, was in Valencia in 1382.

Richard Hawkes said: "The building demonstrates how contemporary design can celebrate local materials and integrate new technologies to produce a highly sustainable building that sits lightly on the Earth."

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