Take a virtual tour of Hockerton Housing Project to see how our systems for energy, water and food work together to help us live sustainably.
Bike Shelter/ Car ParkThis is the starting point for most guided tours. Made principally from green oak and with seating outside, it provides a pleasant resting point for visitors arriving by bike and others before starting a tour. It also provides a convenient shelter from the rain!
Organic vegetable growing areaThis is the main area used by project members to communally grow vegetables using organic & permaculture principles. A polytunnel is used for tomatoes, peppers & other vegetables requiring more warmth.
Duck PondNo longer a home for the project ducks, this pond is used to supply water to the organic plot. The water comes via collection from local barn roofs. A solar panel at the waters edge drives a water pump on sunny days to supply a holding tank near the centre of the plot.
The bundThis man made earth structure was created from soil excavated for the main lake (17). It provides the basin for a reservoir (5) and acts as a sound & pollution barrier from the very busy adjacent road (A617). It is planted out with hazel & willow.
ReservoirThe reservoir provides a water store for all non-drinking use of the homes. It is 25m long and 2m deep providing a capacity of 150m3. It is filled from water collected from the fields on either side of the project road & back of homes; this water first drains to a sump at (10) before being pumped up to the reservoir.
Sand FiltersBefore water from the reservoir is used in the homes it goes through a sand filter. The filters remove solids and organic matter before the water goes into a holding tank and pumped on demand to the points of use which are 3 baths, 8 showers, 10 toilets and about 30 taps.
Seven Standing StonesThese seven large stones, weighing at least two tons each, were delivered in 2000 and placed in to mark the site of the original medieval village of Hockerton, specifically the 'turning yard'. The raised areas around them is where the medieval huts were located. A number of archaeological remains/finds were found here and on other parts of the site. In the adjacent field a clear 'ridge and furrow' system can be seen.
Rear view of homesFive hundred tons of earth has been spread on the main part of the houses reducing the visual impact of a development and making the homes almost invisible from roads or points of public access. This 'earth-sheltering' allows the return of most of the 'green footprint' of the area taken up by the homes with plants & animals quickly re-colonising the area. The soil also provides a temperature buffer for the homes due to its insulation properties.
Roof viewAs part of a guided tour you will walk up the roof to this point. From here you can see the contrast between the rough earth-covered northern aspect and the light glazed southern aspect of the homes, overlooking well-kept gardens and the lake. Along this line of contrast, the parapet, are installed a line of south-facing solar panels (photovoltaics) generating electricity from the sun.
Sump and septic tanksIn this area are located the sump and septic tanks, very much hidden by secondary food growing beds, flower beds, & willow fedges. Surface water collected from the road and surrounding fields makes its way via swales to the sump. From this 5m3 underground tank water is pumped to the reservoir (5). Wastewater from the houses first enters the septic tank for 5-10 days settlement of solid matter before the resultant liquid effluent enters a floating reed bed system (18).
GardensEach household has its own separate ‘garden’ for personal use in contrast to the remaining communally managed land. Some are purely designed for recreational purposes whilst for others it provides more space for more personal food growing.
Sustainable Resource CentreThe Sustainable Resource Centre was completed at the end of 2004 To meet the growing need from visitors. The facilities include; a dedicated audio-visual room, seminar facilities, permanent exhibitions, visitor toilets, and a kitchen. The building itself has been built to similar high environmental standards as the homes, including meeting autonomous, zero heating and zero CO2 standards. The southern aspect of the green-roofed building overlooks the lake, wildlife pond & woodland making it a wonderful tranquil setting for visitors.
'Proven' wind turbineThis 5kW rated wind turbine is erected on a 26m tower and provides about 6,000kWhrs of energy to the homes each year. It was installed in 2002 after many years of planning difficulties and local opposition. However since its installation no one has had cause to complain about it!
‘EVANCE Iskra’ wind turbineThis turbine is also 5kW rated and is erected on a 26m tower about 25m away from the ‘Proven’ machine. It produces a similar amount of energy which is designed to meet the needs of the Sustainable Resource Centre and communal electric car.
Wildlife PondThis pond acts as a balancing pond for the main lake connected by a sluice gate at (16). Bulrushes have flourished at its margins encouraging animal life. Water voles are common inhabitants along with a mix of ducks and amphibians. As it is fish-free it is also rich in aquatic invertebrates, including dragonfly larvae.
Bridge sculptureHHP benefited in 2003 with having an ‘artist-in-residence’ for several months working on this bridge sculpture. It links the two sides of the lake providing access from the Sustainable Resource Centre to a tranquil green space used for a variety of purposes, including arts & drama events. The carved bridge itself is made from oak, whilst the uprights mainly sycamore and the decking in beech. The wood used was classed as unfit for commercial use. The sluice gate lies underneath the bridge.
LakeThe lake was excavated for a variety of purposes, including; recreational use, fish-farming (carp & rudd), encouraging biodiversity and provide an area for the reed bed sewage treatment system (18). It is about 120m long by 30m wide and 2.4m deep along the centre. The lake was naturally filled by rainwater. The lake’s level is controlled by use of a sluice gate allowing overflow into secondary pond systems (15), so that the lake depth is relatively constant.
Reed BedThe reed bed system cleans up the outflow from septic tanks by supporting a highly active eco-system. The roots of reed mace (bulrush) & common reed supply oxygen to bacteria in the water, which digest the pathogens in the sewage. The lake water into which the reed bed flows (17) has been tested independently and shown to meet bathing water standards. It also looks good, supplies nutrient-rich water to the lake (and fish) and the waterfowl love it!
Compost binsAll organic waste produced in the homes, office and during land management is processed in compost bins. The resultant nutrient rich material is then recycled on the land for food production.
Orchard & apiaryThe fruit trees in the orchard area and apiary (bee hives) complement each other very well. The fruit trees benefit from improved pollination and the bees obtain a rich supply of nectar & pollen. The fruit trees include apple, pear, cherry greengage & plum. The bee hives number between 2 & 5 depending on time of year and effectiveness of the bee-keepers! In a typical year over 200lbs of honey are collected and wax obtained for candles and polish.
Due to the size of content, the virtual tour is not available on smartphones. Please view the tour page on tablet or desktop devices.