Daren and his partner Adi live in Brighton - joined, from time to time, by Daren’s two children Tula and Morris. But now Daren and Adi are selling their three bedroom Victorian house to start a new life in Brittany, in the depths of Northern France.
As an ecological building consultant Daren is hoping to use as many recycled materials as possible – what to many of us would seem like a load of old junk. Daren bought this land in Brittany 10 years ago and it came with a rundown cottage which he has since restored. Ideal as a retreat, it’s not big enough as a family house - but it will be a good place to stay as they build their new permanent home.
Surrounded by woodland, the site is four acres in all. The type of home that’s inspired Daren and Adi originates from New Mexico in the early 70s. Made from tyres ram packed with earth, these dense, heat-retaining structures are ideally suited to extreme desert temperatures. Kind to the planet, their ecological aspirations are praiseworthy, but often at the expense of how they look; they can be quite ugly.
The first British tyre build was in Brighton, with the development of a community centre that Daren was instrumental in building. Getting consent to build a home like this in Britain would be very difficult, but for Darren and Adi there’s a bigger reason for doing it in France. It would be very expensive.
To achieve a mortgage-free life Daren has designed his own recycled eco home based very much on buildings he’s worked on. They started to build last summer when they constructed the rotunda, a circular room made from tyres which will form one of the main living spaces, in just six weeks. It will be lit and ventilated through a skylight at the apex of its conical roof and through large south facing glass doors.
Now, Darren and Adi are about to start the second part of the house, a flat roofed single storey section also made from tyres which will provide an open plan kitchen and living room, a family bathroom and three bedrooms - all of which will look out onto the land through south facing glass doors. The pitched roof will slope towards the back of the house feeding two huge rainwater collection tanks. These will be buried in the earth which will be built up around the back of the house, providing a kind of thermal wrap - keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer. And with solar collection on the front face, grey water recycling and as many reclaimed materials as possible, this low tech building should have the smallest impact on the environment.