The carbon-neutral Sartfell Restorative Rural Retreat is located on the Isle of Man, a self-governing island possession of the British Crown. The British Isle is known for its medieval history, museums, castles and rugged landscape. The product of a collaboration between architect Foster Lomas, local charity Manx Wildlife Trust and a retired couple with a background in biological science, medicine and education, this unique project was designed to blend seamlessly into its picturesque surroundings.
The architectural program called for the restoration, conservation and management of 7.5 acres of nature reserve on Sartfell Mountain, with the building retreat at the core of the project. The architects at Foster Lomas applied their previous experience using drystone construction in the design of this particular retreat. The drystone was harvested onsite to promote the inclusion of local building materials, and the team designed the rooftop to mimic the vernacular. The firm made these specific choices so that the structure, over time, would physically become a part of the landscape with minimal site impact.
Large, ribbon windows wrap around the building, providing spectacular and unique views of the looming Mountains of Mourne, the Irish Sea and the Mull of Galloway. The retreat’s central staircase shapes the building into a triangular plan that leads to the library and is topped with a clerestory section of wall framing the study. The architects designed and constructed the stairs to mimic and align with the mountains outside.
The entire site is carbon-neutral. The building itself is equipped with ground source heating that harnesses the energy from a local lake as well as a natural processing sewerage system and a wind turbine. Before construction began, the design team monitored the surrounding weather conditions with the intent of capturing data to achieve the highest level of environmental performance possible for the building. The result is an immensely energy-efficient and gorgeous retreat with unbeatable views to boot.