written by:
February 1, 2009
Originally published in Renovate! Reuse! Recycle!
Architects Simon Beames and Simon Dickens are worried. They are worried about the impact that construction makes on the environment, though they are equally concerned about being thought of as patchouli-scented Deadheads.
Traditional materials and techniques are used for the 7.83 Hz house, but the design is both stunning and contemporary.
1 / 2
Designing around a central core means that the layout of the organic house can be adapted to meet the changing needs of the occupants. Ceilings or walls can easily be added or taken away for a simple makeover.
2 / 2
Traditional materials and techniques are used for the 7.83 Hz house, but the design is both stunning and contemporary.
7.83 Hz House

Architects Simon Beames and Simon Dickens are worried. They are worried about the impact that construction makes on the environment, though they are equally concerned about being thought of as patchouli-scented Deadheads. “It does sound a bit hippie-ish, doesn’t it?” says Beames, as he runs through how their design came to be dubbed “7.83 Hz” after the pair’s idea to create a home that matches the natural frequency of our planet. He clasps his hand over his distinctly unhippie-like shaven head in an “I knew it” motion.

Beames and Dawkins’s fledgling London-based practice, Youmeheshe, was set up to develop an innovative and potentially revolutionary design, which would make a carbon-neutral, eco-friendly prefab house available to the mass market. Yet the two Simons are still unsure how exactly to pitch the idea to a nation that has accepted organic vegetables but has yet to fully embrace the Prius. In ten years’ time the idea will doubtless sell itself, but today the two innovators are way ahead of the curve. Designed to be delivered on just two trucks,  Youmeheshe’s prefab is assembled from precut, biodynamically grown wooden panels, which are doweled together onsite rather than glued. This decreases the impact on the environment as well as on the inhabitants, while the delivery schedule is aimed at minimizing transport-related pollutants and noise.

“You don’t have glues giving off gasses you would otherwise get,” says Beames. “They usually give off formaldehyde, which is what you preserve dead people in. People are unaware of the shortcuts and necessities of traditional fast-track building, or at least overlook them. You have this generation of people being careful about the environment, but they forget about themselves. They eat organic food, but then what are they sitting in?”

Coming in at a budget of about $170,000 before the cost of land, the 7.83 Hz house is constructed around a central core, through which service areas run and heat rises. The layout and orientation of the three-story home (there are also two-story variations available) is thus adaptable to circumstance, both internally and externally. The idea is for the houses to be arranged terrace-style, to mimic the most community-minded United Kingdom street layout, yet they can also be offset in small groups. The interior can be altered as families grow or shrink, with floors added to create new bedrooms and removed to create double-height living rooms or even a roof garden.

This grouping and adaptability should allow for a mixed readymade community, as well as allowing for power and heat to be supplied to each unit via small community-owned biomass fuel burners. Beames and Dawkins believe that some larger schemes could see waste dealt with in an environmentally friendly way too, with the use of a reed bed and willow sewage system.

Youmeheshe is just two years old, but it already has two schemes for the 7.83 Hz house in the planning stage, with three set for South London and 26 for the city of Stavanger, in Norway, where the idea of a wooden house is not so alien as it is in Britain. “Some UK developers have not got their heads around it at the moment,” says Dickens. “They ask what color the wood is going to be and you say, ‘Wood colored,’ and they ask if it will stay that color, but of course it changes and weathers.” Planning officials are also having to grapple with the ideas behind the house, as the design’s carbon-neutral status means that Youmeheshe can talk its way around some restrictions designed to cut down on carbon emissions via heat leakage through windows. For example, where the more standard competition has to stick to 25 percent window-to-floor space ratios to meet emission targets, they can make natural light–filled rooms with much more glazing.

Such advantages are an obvious bonus for Youmeheshe as it tries to win public acceptance of the 7.83 Hz house. The outstanding design and the environmentally conscious standpoint will always win over the buyer who already has an interest in those areas, but in order to have an effective impact the house must have wide appeal, which is why the company is focusing on low-cost prefabs and not one-off designs. “We want it available for the mass market,” says Dickens. “Though not in simply the cheapest way possible, otherwise you would not have the materials we are happy to use.”

If Youmeheshe can deliver on this aim, then the Simons can cease to worry about being seen as hippies and instead start thinking about finding larger premises to grow into. “I wonder if we can get away with a Simon-only recruitment policy,” says Beames, musing upon expansion. “There’s us two and we already have another Simon as well, Simon Catton.”

The policy seems to be working fantastically well for now, though there is the chance that female Simons may be hard to come by, which could prove a legal stumbling block. But all Simons or not, the future of Youmeheshe is worth watching.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016
When a garage damaged by termites had to go, a studio emerges.
June 19, 2016