In the Heart of the Cotswolds - The Moonstone Project
2. ArchiCAD & Planning Proposals

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Moonstone Project Introduction
01. Existing Cottage & Demolition Works
02. ArchiCAD & Planning Proposals
03. Basement Floor and Blockwork Walls
04. Quadlock - ICF Concrete System
05. Basement Slabs
06. Waterproofing of Guest Wing Slab
07. Tanking to Walls
08. General Building and Blockwork
09. Slinkies
10. Boreholes
11. Steel Erection
12. Zinc Roof
13. Stone Lintels
14. Stone Walls
15. Gull Wings
16. Flat Roofs
17. Solar Systems
18. Oak Frame
19. Becker : Triple Glazing
20. Toughened
21. Timber Cladding
22. Heat Recovery Earth Pipes
23. Insulation & Passiv Haus
24. Solar Panels
25. Aquatron & Poo
26. Reed Beds
27. Underfloor Heating
28. Tiling
29. Stone Bath and Polishing Floors
30. Steel Staircase & Balustrades
31. Weather
32. Technology and Lighting
33. Kitchens and Fitted Furniture
34. Glass Stairs and Glass Box


Initially we engaged a local architect to carry out some feasibility studies and early dialogue with the Planners and Conservation officer - this is an AONB area and obviously very sensitive, it is also in open countryside. Any body who has had to try and get planning permission knows how almost impossible the process is. Luckily in addition to some traditional sketches of Cotswold vernacular buildings, I brought along my own "swatch boards" showing, curved roofs, timber cladding, eco builds and a whole medley of different stuff. We were lucky enough to have an extremely forward thinking conservation officer, who actively encouraged us to stop copying past designs, use local materials and try and interpret a modern vernacular for the Cotswolds.

After a very disappointing start, trying to contact over 20 different local and national architectural practices only two were prepared to meet me and do some early ideas work. We chose Mike Hope from the Roderick James Partnership. Mike very quickly came up with 4 unique designs, using different locations on the site from, which varies from road height to river height by over 25m - it’s a steep sloping site - no doubt about it. We immediately loved Design D which placed the building half way up the site, dug us into the slope and had these huge stone battered walls with a 3 degree lean on them, the building had curved metal roofs similar to a Dutch barn, the inspiration for the walls came from Edward Cullinan Architects Fountains Abbey visitors centre up in Ripon, Yorkshire.

Fortunately this was also the design that the planning team preferred and we set about over the next 9 months working out detailed plans.

Like all planning stories it was never going to be easy, the planners although originally supportive regularly changed their minds about important details and materials. After considerable costs and time, we learnt just weeks before our final submission for planning that the conservation officer had just left the local Council and that the head of planning was now in charge of our case, and despite all their written correspondence to us supporting the scheme, now that he was in charge, this project was never going to get built.

Despite seriously considering the legal option of suing the Council and eventually the very long drawn out appeal process, we still had a tiny chance that we could push this through to the planning committee. At this point Mike felt we simply had no chance of taking this any further without Planning officer approval, and so declined to take this any further, but he did recommend Cameron Scott of an architect who had worked for Carpenter Oak the green oak expert previously. Cameron was inspirational in taking the 2D paper sketches from Mike and bringing them all together in a 3D modelling package. Immediately this gave us an incredible edge, the building could be positioned exactly in the site with all the correct heights of the trees and the existing landscape, we even created shots of the house in the summer and winter months to show the difference in foliage coverage and how exposed the house was. Accurate site surveys could be carried out to maximise solar orientation of the house. But the key to conceiving the Planning committee was combining a real virtual image of the house with the landscape and video - bringing the whole presentation into a short 10 minute DVD that I produced on an iMac. Mike Hope produced two accurate scaled massing cardboard models with scaled foliage and trees to show before and after, and we produced an extremely high quality A3 brochure that was mailed to all the committee members.

We hired a local function room at our nearby pub, and invited all the local villagers in and around the area to come and see what we were planning to build - this can be extremely scary - as up to this point you have only had to deal with the input from the planners, having all your perspective local neighbours rip the design apart, can be very demoralizing - especially as this was over 8 years ago when trying to build an Eco house was not considered to be trendy. Despite this we went to Planning committee with 72 letters of support, 2 letters of objection, were allowed our 3 minute glory speech at the planning meeting and then won 9 to 2 in favour.

The difficult stuff was over, the sea saw was now tipped in our favour. And despite a 4 year build, where the design, labouring, building, project management, was all carried out by me; trying to run my own business, moving house twice and getting married and starting a family - YES the planning stage is the most difficult part of the build. Mainly because decisions are effectively out of your control....well unless you believe in the power of thought, which I certainly do.

"Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions." Albert Einstein

A piece of paper I had handed to my dad minutes before the committee had made their final decision – simply said “9 to 2 We win”

The above video shows an animation using ArchiCad - a Graphicsoft product available from - This architectural product was invaluable in not only visualizing the seven different levels of the building in a steeply sloping site but enabled me to make tens of thousands of pounds of real savings and avoid very costly mistakes. We were able to use 3d models, together with actual landscape photography to simulate the views we would see from the house. The ability to be able to see your house within the landscape, in infinite detail, before you have even laid a brick, is invalueable.

A4 Layout
Virtual Tour

Animation Film