Tŷ’r Saith Bryniau

House of Seven Gables

A budget three bedroom, detached house in rustic idiom, is situated at 2400m above sea level near the Aberdare Range, the climate is aptly similar to Wales: cold and wet, with occasional frost – great for potatoes! Vernacular Kenyan construction solutions fail to deal with excessive condensation or thermal comfort in these conditions, especially at nighttime. We have therefore designed the following:

1. A large central kitchen fireplace and masonry chimney, avoids thermal losses through external envelope.

2. The adjacent water tank stand benefits from the slight thermal gains from the main chimney.

3. The room-in-roof principle maximises spatial efficiency and reduces thermal losses through the masonry envelope

4. The timber upper floor allows the bedroom to benefit from rising thermal convection from the living room below (a typical Scottish or Cornish croft arrangement, although we are not proposing, as the tradition was, to bring animals into the ground floor living room to keep us warm at night!)

5. The entrance draught lobby is vital to minimise heat loss from the main reception/living room.

6. Timber cladding substitutes masonry at the rear to reduce cost – these rooms aren’t so thermally critical (kitchen, showers & spare bedroom)

7. Wooden window shutters to habitable rooms prevent excess condensation at nighttime.

8. Thermal and acoustic roof insulation: since (and prior to) the Grenfell fire, we have been very resistant to combustible insulation products such as polystyrene, but this roof must be insulated. Locally, there is an abundant supply of sheep’s wool. This has been successfully used in UK and elsewhere as an ecological alternative insulation material. We propose to use it on this project, thoroughly treating it against dudu infestation, with something, yet to be determined exactly.


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1:20 chipboard model

is varnished for water resistance and is intended to be kept on site for the fundis to refer to, in conjunction with Architectural and Engineering drawings. It is completely disassemble-able and we hope, robust enough to survive a few knocks and rains, but we mean to carry it inside a metal trunk similar to a school trunk. In time, we hope to provide a model making service at a competitive rate, not for showing off in Architects’ offices, but for use by fundis on site.


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