Many people ask us what the Sky Village site looks like now. I can tell you that it is a hillside – in fact there’s a video to the right in which our Founder, David Hollands shows just what there is.
The answer, of course, is that there is only nature. In fact, other than the road to the hillside on which we will build the village, and a small waterworks, there is nothing but nature for miles around.
When darkness falls at this hillside, its untouched nature becomes even more interesting. First, there isn’t an artificial light in sight. None. Nowhere. The only light is from the universe itself, which towers above you breathtakingly.
This is something we wanted Sky Village to enjoy. But how do you build something on this site that is as good for this pristine environment as the grass that is there now? How do you avoid spoiling the beauty of the night sky? The answer of course, is simple. We tread lightly.
Preserving the Dark Sky
Sky Village is designed, from first prinicples, to be Dark Sky Friendly. In fact, we have it on good authority that we are the first ever development to apply the International Dark Sky Association’s guidelines for “Dark Sky Park” status from the outset*. This guidance, and the specification for Dark Sky Parks is a stringent requirement to keep the nighttime environment free of the impacts of light pollution and artificial light disturbance, protecting both the Night Sky and the local ecosystem. Upon completion of Sky Village, we will formally apply for Dark Sky Park status, a coveted designation for which we would be only the third certified site in Eastern Europe (the 8th in Europe) if successful.
To meet this requirement, we have adopted a multi-pronged approach:
We are designing all the lighting for Sky Village from first principles – even the interior lighting – to ensure that light is directed only where it is needed, without any over-spill. The colour temperature of our lights is chosen to be <2700K without exception, though all our lighting will be driven by highly efficient, LED lamps. Much of our lighting can be changed to red-light only, and all will be centrally, individually controlled to ensure both safety and efficiency.
“Dark by Design” houses. Incredibly, there isn’t a standard for building design that speaks directly to light over-spill, nor is there any accepted best-practice. To tackle the difficult question of how to make houses usable and comfortable internally, whilst preserving the night-time environment without blacking them out, we came up with “Dark by Design”. Dark by Design is a set of guiding principles governing the use of interior lighting and the placement of windows and doors to ensure minimal light leakage, whilst keeping the interior well-lit. In summary, it’s about having light where it is needed – and darkness where it is not.
Preserving the Local Environment
There are a vast range of factors to consider in preserving both the local environment of the land itself and the wider environment in terms of energy, carbon and materials. Again, we have looked to established organisations for guidance, and it is against a great many criteria that we are judging our design, a lengthy process currently underway. Here are just a few of the key areas we have considered that are specific to Sky Village:
Ground impact – our structures, though large, are designed to be entirely removable at any future point. No large concrete pads or deep foundations are required, as the buildings are suspended on timber pilotis, anchored to the hillside using discrete reinforced concrete piers. These also ensure that the site continues to drain correctly, ensuring the integrity of the structures.
Thermal efficiency – another key feature for astronomers is an absence of heat plumes which would otherwise affect observation: there is nothing like a hot roof to upset your view! Our houses take advantage of cutting-edge design standards to ensure heat stays exactly where it should be: inside. Good thermal design requires high levels of insulation, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) and an airtight building envelope, all of which has been designed into Sky Village from the outset. To prevent heat from affecting observations, all our buildings are designed specifically with external materials that have a very low thermal mass.
Flora & Fauna – steps are already being taken to protect the flora and fauna at Sky Village. Throughout the development, our construction standards specifically address the need to protect the biodiversity of the site and locality, including mimising the removal of trees and hedgerows. At the finished project, our landscaped areas, green roofs and other features will provide a haven for the wildlife and plants that are already at home there.
Materials – timber for our external facades, and all structural timber where it can be obtained with the necessary certification, will be sourced locally. In general, all material miles will be monitored and mimised.
Energy – apart from minimising the village’s energy requirements through efficient design, we also aim to reduce the energy requirements of site services as far as possible. This comes partly from efficiency and partly from our own on-site energy capture & generation. As a starting point, we aim to generate the majority of hot water used on-site from solar heating.
For more information on our environmental approach, please do not hesitate to contact us.
* Note: “International Dark-Sky Association”, “IDA” and “Dark Sky Parks” are all trademarks of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Sky Village BG is not affiliated with or endorsed by the IDA in any way. Successful application for Dark Sky Park status once Sky Village is completed is subject to application to IDA, will be judged by their rules alone, and is in no way guaranteed.
Contact us for more information on our approach to the environmental aspects of Sky Village