Innovative Para 79 House Approved - 'The Autarkic House'

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

StudioExe Architects (in conjunction with BIM Yorkshire MEP Building Services) were delighted for clients, Nick Moffat and Kyrenia Tew when planning approval was finally granted for their first of a kind innovative National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Para 79 (e) (previously 55) woodland family home. 'The Autarkic House' will be the UK and Europe's first fully off grid solar-hydrogen powered Passivhaus.


Click here ... to see the Teignbridge Planning pages that relate to the planning application and planing decision for this project (18/00254/FUL). A copy of the officers report can be seen by clicking here ...


The site is within the boundary of the Grade II Listed Oxton House Park and Garden, and also within the Teignbridge Area of Great Landscape Value, Devon. This required 'The Autarkic House' to meet stringent standards set out in Paragraph 79(e) of the National Planning Policy Framework.


The applicant first started progressing the pre-planning process in August 2015. The scheme, which has evolved through various design forms, has always been located in the proposed site clearing and has consisted of a two storey off grid family home that sensitively morphs into its natural surroundings. Since August 2015 various meetings with key stakeholders have been undertaken, including with Council Officers, Historic England and The Gardens Trust. In addition the proposed schemes were presented at 3No. Design Review Panels; December 2016, April 2017 and October 2017.


Specifically, the constructive process provided by The Design Review Panel was invaluable, and, at each Design Review Panel session, a multidisciplinary Panel of impartial experts provided their opinion and feedback. The experts, which were selected to ensure that they had the relevant experience to comment on the type of scheme in question, were instrumental in giving the design the direction needed to meet the requirements of the NPPF para 79 (e) of the NPPF:


"... be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas"


As well as having an exceptional design, 'The Autarkic House' has been developed to be truly innovative. The proposed house is to be the first fully off grid hydrogen house in Europe that can support modern family living, all year round. The mechanical & electrical engineering concept has defined the architectural form and construction. This concept, which supports legacy educational proposals will result in beneficial learning outcomes and will help raise the standards of design in rural areas.


"... reflect the highest standards in architecture"


'The Autarkic House' has been developed to unite architecture, landscape design, construction and mechanical & engineering to create an outstanding piece of design driven by a clear innovative concept - A new way of living ‘off grid’ fueled by hydrogen sourced from solar energy.


‘…significantly enhance its immediate setting


'The Autarkic House' has been developed to simply reflect the function of the house and provides a solution to the immediate environment. The house morphs into the sloped topography, the external envelop is seamlessly clad in larch planks sourced from the woodland, the main roof benefits from an extensive green roof with hanging ivy planting and ribbons of biodiversity will stretch across the site reaching into the proposed enhancement of the surrounding woodland.


"... be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area"


'The Autarkic House' has been developed to become a key part of the historic parkland. The building sensitively embraces the historic characteristics of the site and responds to a historic trail by physically embracing it. The existing historic trail is to be enhanced and highlighted through bluebell planting and Rev Swete’s 18th century woodland character is to be restored throughout the wider context of the site. This sensitive approach, together with the house morphing into the immediate setting, creates a synergy between the proposed architecture and the landscape.


The applicants, Nick Moffat and Kyrenia Tew have said:-


"After 6.5 years of R&D, planning and intense scrutiny from at 3 design review Panel sessions, we are now underway with construction of our Autarkic House.


We are very proud to announce that 'The Autarkic House':


– Is the UK and Europe’s first fully off grid, solar-Hydrogen house

– Is not connected to any power, gas, water or waste connection

– Is fully autonomous

– Generates all of its own power through the solar array

– Can store electrical energy indefinitely through the hydrogen store

– Can fuel its own hydrogen vehicles

– Creates clean Oxygen through electrolysis

– Provides an educational resource for Universities, Schools and Colleges to visit, monitoring energy production.

– Is the world’s first, Certified Hydrogen Fuel Cell Passivhaus

– Generates approximately 2,160 Kg of oxygen per annum


The Autarkic house will be a test case for making this system scalable in the future.


Autarkic Living Ltd was created to take the learnings and information generated from The Autarkic House, to the wider market to help make a real and meaningful impact on climate change.


The initial vision is to create small clusters of Autarkic Homes that provide

energy self-sufficiency.


We want self-builders, developers and consultants to talk about building Autarkic Homes as they do a Passivhouse. Homes that through energy self-sufficiency, would mean incoming utilities and associated infrastructure are no longer required. Homes that can provide a clean, green fuel source for travel with allocated pool cars and a fuelling station on site.


We would buy homes knowing utility bills and fuel costs are a thing of the past.




Thank you to Michael Bayly, Director + Architect at StudioExe Architects, for providing the above blog article.


StudioExe was conceived to create beautifully crafted, high quality low energy architecture both in the city and countryside in Devon and London. They are an RIBA Chartered Practice currently focused on the commercial and one-off houses ranging from sensitive adaptations to signature bespoke houses.