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Less Power for a Brighter Future

Thanks to Kirsty Maguire, and the handful of architects like her, the future looks a little brighter.

Within the past few days Perth and Kinross Council voted to give the go-ahead to an eco-house she has designed which is helping pioneer new ways of living which combine sustainability with comfort.

The five-bedroom property at Trinity Gask will be off grid, with all power coming from a small wind turbine and bio-fuels which the occupants intend to grow for themselves.

The design and use of materials is so effective that keeping the house warm, but airy, will only take as much energy as it does to run a kettle and toaster – not bad given our winters!

The design and use of materials is so effective that keeping the house warm, but airy, will only take as much energy as it does to run a kettle and toaster – not bad given our winters!

But elsewhere in Scotland Kirsty, who is part of Fleet Collective and has her own practice Kirsty Maguire Architects, is involved in creating even more energy-efficient homes.

One project involves creating the first house in Ayrshire to be built to stringent Passive House standard.

This will achieve even more impressive results than Trinity Gask – forget the kettle, the place stays cosy using only the same power as a toaster.

But one of the messages Kirsty is determined to get across is that sustainable living is not just for committed greens, it’s for anyone who wants to combat relentlessly rising fuel bills.

Sometimes this can mean a revolutionary approach to living (the Perthshire property will be built on stilts to avoid creating a big concrete base and will even have a driveway made from recycled and grass-permeable plastic) but this is not always the case.

Frequently her work is about making sensitive changes to old houses, including great Georgian and Victorian piles.

The gains can be dramatic, whether it’s in cutting waste, saving cash, improving spaces or increasing light – all of which matter a lot in modern family living.

Kirsty was only the second Scottish architect to be certified as able to work to Passive House standards, and her expertise in environmental architecture has won her an international reputation.

Last year the United Nations Development Programme funded her to help with an urban renewal project in Georgia.

At the same time she has also been a frequent visitor to Armenia where she advises universities and architectural practices on sustainable building.

And while the advances look modest at the moment Kirsty is convinced that the world is changing and that many features and designs which now look radical will soon become the norm for housebuilders everywhere.