Born in Bermuda and raised in Jersey, Anna Powell – the brainchild of Vesta Architecture, a boutique practice that offers an incredibly personal service to its clients’ – is a designer intent on giving each and every project she works on a sustainable twist. One of her more recent ‘eco’ endeavors being ‘The Palms’ a property boasting breathtaking views across the entirety of St Ouen’s Bay.
Having dedicated over eight years of study to Environmental Architecture, self-sustainability is high on Anna’s agenda. ‘Ever since my Trident work placement, I’ve always wanted to be an architect.’ Anna is certainly passionate about construction, regardless of whether it’s her own work or creations from admired designers such as Alvar Aalto and Thomas Heatherwick. This is an architect who focuses on offering a complete service from start too finish, transforming existing properties into more efficient, completely self-sustainable visions of their former selves.
‘I don’t want people to become intimidated by ‘environmental’ terminology. My aim is to take the mystery out of this, showing clients how to create homes and projects that cost less to run and essentially, homes that are more ‘green’.’
Anna’s impressive CV includes working for architectural practice in Melbourne. ‘It was an incredible experience and one that has given me a broad vision in modern build and heritage renovation. Australian architects are very forward minded, they’re already pursuing a great deal of environmental construction – even normal projects boast an eco twist!’ Anna’s worldly experiences have taught her to never shy away from a challenge, in fact, she welcomes both complex and technically detailed projects – possibly one of the reason’s she’s been appointed a member of the AJA Council, an organiser of the bi-annual Architecture Week and a visiting lecturer in BSc Architectural Technology at Highlands College.
So what’s her favourite part of the job? Asides from building budding relationships with clients and delivering the final project, Anna enjoys nothing more than being on site. ‘I’m like a kid at Christmas, a computer visual is never as good as the real thing!’
When Anna was asked to design a green roofed, two-story extension – aptly named The Palms – she took on this challenge with a vengeance. The entire building (both the interior and the exterior) incorporates a natural, yet contemporary feel, with panoramic views spanning from Corbiere lighthouse to L’Etacq, this project was all about the vista! From the floor to ceiling windows, to the composite timber cladding, every inch of The Palms has been planned with sustainability in mind. The Gullwing roof has even been dressed in the same zinc used to create the impressive entrance extension.
Despite The Palms brandishing an aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly space, Anna tells me it wasn’t all plain sailing. The original lawn was a sea of protected orchids, a plant species only found in two parts of the world, which for Anna, meant enforcing ‘a never tried before’ experimental procedure. Designed by the Landscape Architect Bruce Labey with guidance from the Eric Young Orchid association and Kew Gardens, the turf and orchids were removed in thick sods and maintained by Bruce and his team. They were then carefully re-planted into the new green roofs. Damaging any one of the orchids could have resulted in an exceptionally high fine. Safely embedded in their new home, they now lower the biodiversity impact of the building.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS
From rainwater recycling fixtures to cladding made from recycled plastic and wood, Anna’s design is one of minimal maintenance. Other notable environmental aspects include future-proof glazed windows (sourced from German-based company WERU), reused stone excavated on site and the permeable paving in the driveway.
What started life as a double garage (then converted into a small two-bedroom property) now stands as an eco masterpiece, complete with ample living space, a Master suite, a study, a games room and an equally sizable garage. The entrance to the property has been transformed to reveal a grand entranceway and a fourth bedroom, whist the interior boasts a curved feature staircase, designed to appear like a sinuous ribbon – a perfect contrast to The Palm’s angular build.
The property’s interior appears drenched in natural sunlight. ‘Walk on roof lights were included in the new terrace to ensure that even the underground rooms are flooded with light, whilst a lantern above the stairwell illuminates the underground hallway.’ Asides from encouraging masses of picture-perfect light, the cowl on the lantern opens to allow for a stack effect – drawing the hot air up through the house creating a thermal flow.
The original living room has been renovated to reveal a contemporary kitchen come dining area, with the focal point being a double-sided wood-burning stove.
A feeling of synergy runs throughout, whereby the pool terrace has been revamped to create a modern seating area, complete with outdoor fireplace and poolside shower – an ideal spot in which to enjoy a little al fresco entertainment.
All in all, The Palms poses as an exceptional, eco friendly property; a beautiful home that is inventively low impact on the environment.