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Film for Building Society Association

Ecology Building Society recently invited us to take part in a short film for the Building Society Association. We had the pleasure of welcoming reporter Nick Thatcher and camera Vicky Macintyre from ITN productions together with Ian Rigarlsford and Paul Ellis from Ecology Building Society. It was a very interesting day and the footage can be seen on the link below.



Muck shovellers

Hard at work…..



What a team!


Job done! Thanks guys.


Oh no, another load!


Our ground source district heating/water system explained!

From the first time that we discussed our proposed ground source district heating and water system, we have all struggled to understand how it really works! Now that we have installed it, we can feel how it works from being in the first house to make use of it. However, it still seems fairly miraculous, complicated and intangible. There are so many operations and actions that occur in the system that you simply can’t see. Having tried to explain the system to a range of people, including friends, colleagues, students and residents, I thought the best way was to draw it! I am still not sure that it is 100% accurate, but it gives a pretty good idea!

open house project heating energy water diagram 2

Big Plans…….

062ED9FF-9227-47DE-956B-8D92F3BAC53D23AE1E9E-0B94-4D00-A8CA-4B48A5E3BA03D23B99D0-EC85-482F-B9A9-ECB1234E825A………literally, they must be A1 or something. Good job Leo and Kate have a big enough table in their gaff so we could have a good look at them 😂

So we (The Open House Project) are now on Phase 3 which comprises of units 2 and 3. These are the 3rd and 4th homes of the project (3 more up for grabs nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Unit 3 is ours (the Connors’) and we recently had hopefully our last planning meeting with Leo. I don’t say hopefully in a fed up or bad way as I have REALLY enjoyed the meetings when he has talked us through the plans and his design. We are just hopeful they will be approved and the build can start. 

I feel very lucky that Leo is the architect, not just for his undoubted abilities (see Sheffield Design Awards 2018 – Conservation Winner) but the fact we trust him implicitly so that when he has ‘managed our expectation’ we know it is because some of our (well…my) ideas just wouldn’t work, and he has made changes that were possible. I can’t imagine any better or smoother architect/client relationships. 

So we are now close to the submission stage and I cannot put into words (or verbally describe) how ‘real’ it all feels. The closest analogy would be the Fast Show sketch when Paul Whitehouse goes round saying everything is ‘Brilliant’. I’ve felt like it ever since the first talk through the plans with Leo, the excitement has come on like someone turning on a light switch. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. 

It’s also quite bizarre that I don’t have any nerves around the family moving lock stock and barrel North of the Watford Gap to new schools (pending 🤞), new jobs (again pending 🤞). 

Very exciting times. 

Bye for now



Sheffield Design Award Success

Shortly after it was announced we rang home to let people know the news… “we have won the conservation award”, “Oh, that’s a shame” was the response. “No, the Conservation Award!” we repeated! Once the penny had dropped and social media had started to kick-in, we began to celebrate our success at the Sheffield Design Awards!

Screenshot 2018-11-09 at 09.15.05

Having missed the beginning of the presentation, following a stressful drive across Sheffield, Kate and Greg arrived just in time for the announcement! It was great to be given the award amongst such an excellent range of  design projects.


It was a great evening, and we were delighted to be recognised for our ongoing work! The Sheffield Design Award Judges produced a lovely description of our project and we received a certificate as well!

SDA2018 CECA Long Barn

Although the award was named for the Long Barn, the supporting information that we submitted and the judges visit took onboard the project as a whole. We would be delighted to welcome the SDA team back in the future to see our next phase of our conversion!


An award for our hard work?

Since the completion of the Long Barn in April, we have been personalising the space and making it feel like home! We have also really enjoyed seeing the building in different weather conditions and during the changing light throughout the summer. We feel like we have created something special and wanted to celebrate it!

The Long Barn 10 - an ongoing project (1)

When colleagues from the architecture practice visited, they were really taken with the building and suggested that we submit if for the Sheffield Design Awards! Brad, Jen, Howard and Claire (CE+CA) were able to take some great photos and we forged the application with their help!

The Sheffield Design Awards are organised by the Sheffield Society of Architects and Sheffield Civic Trust, and run every 2 years, to champion design and innovative architecture in our area. So the timing was right to have a go.

After a few weeks, we received news that our hard work had paid off, as we were one of 16 projects shortlisted from the initial entries. There are a number of different award categories that the Long Barn could be considered for, including housing, environment and conservation award.

After being shortlisted, the next step was to welcome the judging panel and give them a guided tour of the site and the Long Barn itself. Unlike many of the other projects entered for the awards, The Open House Project is ongoing, and with plenty of work left to do. We tried to explain and capture the environmental and social aspirations of the project as a whole, as well as describe the design approach to the Long Barn. We also tried to get across how the building is very much a functioning home for our family. We are not sure that there will ever be so many people stood in our bathroom again!


We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Sheffield Design Awards 2018! We will find out if the The Long Barn has been successful at the SDA awards evening on 25th October.

We hope that we will also be able to put forward the next buildings for awards in the future! Fingers crossed!!