Alex Pearson

An investigation of Contextually Responsive Ultra-Low Energy Housing in Rural Scotland: A Case Study


The objective of the thesis is to define alternative approaches for the development of ultra-low energy, mass market, rural Scottish housing.
The majority of the mass market rural housing over the past 50 years share design styles and layouts typical with suburban development across the UK. The form of these design models is not inherently energy efficient nor does it create a respectful dialogue with existing rural environments. These issues are recognised by Scottish Government with net Zero Carbon new housing by 2016/17 and new design guidance and legislation to address Placemaking in Scotland. However zero carbon legislation and design guidance is not fully developed and rarely demonstrated successfully in unison. In the UK 66% of residential energy use is used for space heating demand, however UK legislation focuses on renewable energy generation to offset carbon emissions rather than reduction of space heating to minimal figures. In addition the UK’s low carbon legislation assessment software (SAP) does not consider regional climatic variation, using average UK climate data for space heating calculations, across the UK, particularly in Scotland the variation will have a significant effect on heating demand.
This research firstly quantifies the effects of varying key architectural parameters on the energy performance of prototype house typologies across the different climate regions in Scotland using PHPP. Secondly, the results are used to design new, alternative typologies of suitable for rural Scottish housing which are to be more energy efficient through an improved response to climate. The result of the research will re-evaluate contemporary housing practice, suggesting variations of architectural parameters and to increase energy efficiency by reducing heat loss and increasing solar gain with alternative designs tailored to different regional climates creating more nuanced, contextually responsive housing


Alex Pearson is a PhD researcher and tutor at the University of Dundee. He graduated from Dundee School of Architecture with a Masters of Architecture in 2009. Since graduating he has undertaken a Doctoral research study entitled An investigation of Contextually Responsive Ultra-Low Energy Housing in Rural Scotland: A Case Study. This research seeks to suggest an alternative form of rural development which is combines appropriate scale, identity and environmental aspects for a contemporary Scottish rural context. In 2012 he gained his Passivhaus consultant accreditation and spoke at the 16th Annual Passivhaus Conference in Germany.


Dr Fraser Smith