The project began as a pursual of planning permission for the restoration of the former Park House ruin, Watermillock, which historically comprised of a small dwelling with attached barn and various outbuildings centrally located on close to the shores Ullswater. The project is a culmination work carried out during 2016 by Edwin Thompson and other consultants working closely with the applicant developing a future steading and succession plan for the farming operation.

Utilising the local supplementary planning policy and support of the parish council, Edwin Thompson gained permission in the open countryside for the new low-impact highly environmentally friendly new dwelling for the applicant, daughter and son-in-law to the estate, commence a modern and sustainable farming enterprise in the community.

The design includes innovative building performance targets of extremely high thermal insulation values, extremely high levels of air-tightness and management of ventilation with heat recovery. Mixed with the modern performance targets are the requirements for aesthetics by the applicant and the planning authority. The culmination of these design cues have delivered a design which mixes traditional and modern, in external appearance with high technologies being delivered with the cultural touchstones of a traditional Cumbrian farmhouse such as wood burning stoves, a range kitchen and oak beams.

Edwin Thompson was commissioned for full architectural services in design, statutory permission and contract management, and worked closely with Passivhaus consultant and green building specialist Bill Butcher of the Green Building Store, Hudderfield, who carried out the ‘Passivhaus planning package calculations’ at design stage, designed and supplied a number of specialist building items directly to the main contractor including the mechanical heat recovery system and triple glazed windows.


The oak beams are fabricated from oak timber felled in St John-in-the-Vale. Using green oak which is prone to move and crack as it dries in the years after installation with the tolerant air-tightness requirements of a Passivhaus standard building performance requirement required innovative detailing.