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MacEwen longlist: Forgebank

A catalyst for cutting edge sustainability, creating ambitious low carbon homes.

Eco Arc Passive House Architects for Lancaster Cohousing Project

Location: Halton, Lancaster 

Forgebank, run by Lancaster Cohousing, is an eco-cohousing development consisting of 41 private homes, communal facilities, low carbon workspace and riverside woodland habitat.

Its vision is to be ‘a cutting edge example of sustainable design and living acting as a catalyst and inspiration for significant improvements in the sustainability of new development’.

It combines sustainable building techniques, energy saving technologies, renewable energy generation, and peer support for behaviour change. It aims to show that living sustainably need not be a hair shirt experience, but can be comfortable, affordable and fun.

Forgebank includes: a Common House for regular communal meals and gatherings; a shared laundry; shared guest rooms; children’s room; bike shed; community shop and workspace. It is designed to encourage casual social interaction, with 1-3 bed homes clustered around a pedestrian street.

The £8.2m development was led by the residents, working collaboratively with architect Eco Arc through a participative design process. The homes meet Passivhaus standard and Code for Sustainable Homes Level Six. It was constructed by a local traditional builder, guided by specialists. This developed new skills in the local workforce and demonsyrated that eco-building could be replicated.

Heating and hot water use is about 15% that of average homes, and comes from a district heating system powered by a biomass boiler, run on local woodchip. Energy efficient appliances and lighting reduce electricity use to about 30% of average.  Electricity is generated from two community energy schemes: an 89kWp array of solar PV panels and a 160kW hydro electric scheme. 

The project is fulfilling its ambition to be an exemplar of sustainable development and living in various ways. It supports developing cohousing projects providing advice, documentation and a chance to experience community living. It runs monthly tours and many more on request. It has collaborated with three university research projects on sustainable building/living. Its residents write, a blog and give presentations promoting the challenges and joys of sustainable living.


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