A beautiful new carbon-neutral restorative retreat on the Isle of Man will sit within 7.5 rewilded acres of ecological restoration

Here’s a story of restoration within restoration on the beautiful Isle of Man, one of the seven Celtic “nations”, and the world’s oldest continuous democracy.

My wife and I (Storm Cunningham) once spent a lovely couple of weeks on the Isle of Man—located between Scotland and Ireland—attending the world’s oldest and greatest motorcycle race: the Isle of Man TT, which takes place on a 38-mile loop around the island on the actual roads.

The Sartfell Restorative Rural Retreat on the Isle of Man is the result of a unique collaboration among the clients—a retired couple whose background combines biological science, medicine, and education—the architect Foster Lomas, and the local charity Manx Wildlife Trust.

The clients plan to ecologically restore the 7.5 acres of Nature Reserve on Sartfell Mountain.

The long-term vision is to rewild the site with native woodland, meadowland and acid bogs which are home to rare orchid species. Thus, clients of the retreat will restore themselves within an environment of restoration.

The architects’ design drew on their previous research of drystone construction whilst working in Abruzzo, Italy. They reinterpreted this vernacular technology and local Manx stone structures to create an original building in its unique setting.

Harvested from the site, the drystone walls allow local ecology to inhabit voids within. Its organic rooftop emulates the flora of the immediate area and complements the drystone walling.

Over the years, the walls will subtly become part of the landscape, with minimal impact on the land.

The signature feature of the house is a ribbon window that wraps around, framing the sweeping views of the Mountains of Mourne, the Irish Sea and the Mull of Galloway, to the delight of the pair of ornithological enthusiasts.

All the spaces are ordered around a staircase core forming a triangular plan that elegantly accommodates the library.

The drama of the staircase is topped with a clerestory that frames the study and its exposed concrete interior. The poetic orientation of the stairs aligns the ascendance with views up to the mountain, whilst the descent directs views down into the valley.

The entire site is carbon-neutral in operation, equipped with ground source heating harnessing energy from a nearby lake, a natural processing sewerage system and a wind turbine.

Weather conditions were monitored prior to construction with the introduction of a weather station capturing data to achieve optimum level of the retreat’s environmental performance.

I hope our next trip to the Isle of Man includes a restorative stay here!

All images courtesy of Foster Lomas / Edmund_Sumner.

See Foster Lomas website.

You must be logged in to post a comment