It is always satisfying to see a town's heritage being protected, particularly when it involves the sympathetic conversion of redundant industrial buildings into high quality, energy-efficient examples of modern living. Just such an example has, over a period of five years, been completed by Jonathan Firth for his family.
The Warehouse, a landmark building at the bottom end of Old Station Road in Carmarthen, has been transformed from a 19th century wharfside store to an open plan, luxurious family home over three levels. Using efficient heating and cooling, modern-day standards of insulation and lighting, the living space is relatively inexpensive to keep warm, despite its enomity. What's more, the building carries a small carbon footprint. And, because the shell of the building is recycled, the whole project is very earth-friendly.
Jonathan did not have to learn new skills to complete the conversion. A builder specialising in high quality new build and heritage renovations, the attention to detail he endows on all his projects is evident in the materials used and finishing in the open plan living areas, all making the best use of the large spaces available. The space is given light by the widespread use of brilliant white, brightly-coloured accessories giving depth and interest.
The property is accessed via an undercover outside area to the side, through to a cnetral stairwell. Bedrooms and living rooms are on the first floor and, at the top of the house, a grand pen-plan living space accommodates kitchen, dining and living areas. A WC is housed within a circular 'pod', a feature that provides a focal point in the long, well-proportioned vaulted room.
One of Jonathan's main concerns, at the outset, was the possibility of cold spots in such a high building. This has been solved by using a Unico System SDHV (small duct, high velocity) energy delivery system which is coupled with a gas boiler. The system maintains a sub-two degrees temperature difference between floor and ceiling and is controllable by zone. The system feeds 29 outlets for an even distribution of heated or cooled air.
During the renovation of The Warehouse, Jonathan was careful to protect as much of its history as possible. A powered winch, used for lifting goods up to the top floor, has been kept in-situ and restored whilst the fabric of the building has been protected and enhanced. Among the projects undertaken by Jonathan's Carmarthenshire family firm, Firth & Son, are the renovation of Plas Ystrad Mansion and the new showroom of Beacon Stoves. The company prides itself on its ability to deliver traditional building methods as well as modern skills to ensure the most sympathetic treatments for listed buildings and new build alike. Contact Jonathan on 01267 221603. www.firthandson.co.uk
The heating and cooling system at the heart of the renovation is a Unico System, a radiator-free small-duct highvelocity arrangement that is ideal for renewable energy solutions. Using any energy source, the Unico System efficiently heats or cools rooms without draughts and without the need for radiators.
Small-diameter ducts can be installed in wall or ceiling cavities, ideal for renovations where the structure and decor of the building can be maintained. The high velocity air delivery ensures even temperatures throughout, even in buildings with vaulted ceilings.The only visible sign of the system is CD-sized outlets, matched to the decor. These create a draught-free environment and can be fitted in ceilings, skirting boards or even in wooden floors.
A favourite with architects, the Unico System is ideal for any home or building and is particularly relevant to today's sustainable energy options, with its ability to effectively and efficiently use lowgrade renewable sources such as heat pumps and pellet burners.