Crossway Home; A Home Design in Collaboration of the Past and the Present

A house is not just a home any longer, but a test of timeless sustainability. Architect Richard Hawkes built his home, The Crossway House in Kent, UK, using historical techniques intermixed with new modern ideals.

Techniques and concepts he employed and executed in the house’s design are:

  • Timbrel vaulting
  • Recycled materials
  • Solar panels
  • Green Roof
  • Locally sourced products
  • Triple-glazed windows
  • Heat recovery, ventilation system
  • Rain-water harvesting system
  • On-site water treatment plant
  • Biomass boiler with NO radiator
  • Vacuum insulated doors

Timbrel Vaulting is used to create the dome shaped, clay tile arch-roof and the staircase. This technique allows for less building materials and scaffolding, but increases the structure’s strength. The roof is then covered in gravel, soil, and local plants, thus increasing habitat and decreasing the house’s carbon footprint. This also allows for the roof to adjust to climate and seasonal changes with the surrounding environment. Kris De Decker in Low-Tech Magazine wrote,

“The timbrel vault does not rely on gravity but on the adhesion of several layers of overlapping tiles which are woven together with fast-setting mortar. The resulting laminated shell is almost as strong as reinforced concrete.”


Another truly innovative and green choice that makes up Crossway is the selection of materials. The insulation is shredded newspaper and the floors are crushed glass bottles poured over 50% recycled concrete slabs. The 26,000 hand-made clay tiles used throughout the house are locally sourced from Kent’s own tile manufacturer that has been in business since the late 1800’s and is only four miles from the site. Also, the cedar wood that was used is locally grown.

Using historical techniques, with innovative, modern ideas is what makes The Crossway house truly inspiring. Richard Hawkes blogged the entire process in the, from the demolition of his past house to the completion of his environmentally friendly home and then it getting certified as Passivhaus. He wrote,

“Even more rewarding for me is that it passed without being designed using PHPP software. This demonstrates to me that you can design buildings that are joyous and inspiring as pieces of architecture without the stiff & sterile straight jacket of technical software.”

 All photographs from

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