The Pines Calyx – a healthy, green building 

Cradle to cradle building design

The Pines Calyx is the first venue in Europe to be designed and built using the principles of cradle-to-cradle design, combining the healthiest environment with the lowest carbon footprint of any venue in the UK. Read on for more about the buildings features, design, innovation and awards

Regenerative building design

Cradle-to-cradle, or regenerative, design is an approach to the creation of products and systems that mimic nature. It models human industry on nature’s processes, viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. This approach was first articulated by Michael Braungart and William McDonough in their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, and it has since been applied by their advisory team and others working with many businesses and organisations around the world.

A green & healthy building

Renewable energy is just one part of green building. Changing the materials and methods used in making a building is just as important. To achieve this we need to transform the way we think about waste and the byproducts of construction. The Pines Calyx project put test these ideas to the test. Below we can and show you our findings.

Healthy buildings ensure the quality of light, air, acoustics and space. They also ensure best environmental, health and social outcomes. All these elements are fundamental and are at the heart of the building’s construction.

Low energy & maintenance costs

The building’s maintenance and energy costs have been a fraction of those of a conventional event space. Continuing enhancements are now delivering a building that yields more energy than it needs.

Closed-loop construction

The use of reclaimed materials throughout the building provides an insight into how we can rethink the way we make things. Waste chalk and clay have been used for the walls and roof structure. Many other upcycled materials in the building show novel examples of closing the loop using glass, timber and plastic waste.

Low energy demands

The very low operational energy requirements of the Pines Calyx are achieved through the building’s very high thermal mass, combined use of multiple passive climate-control systems, orientation for passive solar gain and the maximising of natural light within the building.

Renewable energy

The integration of a hybrid solar powered system with a water source heat pump provides both heat and electricity for the building, with the real-time outputs on display for visiting delegates.

Nature’s air conditioning

Multiple active and passive climate-control systems bring the healthy sea air direct to the heart of the building and use the warmth from the stale air before it leaves the building. The stable temperature of the surrounding earth naturally cools the air in summer and warms it in.

Daylight & virtual daylight

Virtual daylight provides artificial lighting that is designed specifically for the enhanced physiological health and well-being of conference delegates. The programmable lighting system can be tailored for a variety of uses, from art exhibitions to music events and evening parties.

Enhancing biodiversity

The construction and continued use add to local biodiversity through the enhanced habitats of the intensive green roof – home to its own colony of bees – and the reed bed providing a complete new habitat for invertebrates. All compostable waste from events is used for mulching within the surrounding organically managed landscape.

Show & tell for your organisation

Our in-house team is working daily to enhance the triple bottom-line benefits from the work we carry out here. We are always delighted to provide a “show and tell” for your organisation.

Closed-loop water cycle

The Pines Calyx operates within its own closed-loop water cycle. A borehole supplies fresh water to the building, and all waste-water outputs run direct to the reed-bed filtration system, from where the cleaned water exits to fulfil the garden’s irrigation needs.

Using 80% less ’embodied energy’ during construction

During its construction, the Pines Calyx used 80% less embodied energy than a standard building, due to extensive use of on-site and local materials.

Conventional masonry-and-concrete construction of the walls and domes in the Pines Calyx would have resulted in the use of more than four times the embodied energy and embodied carbon.

Embodied energy is the total energy expended in the creation and use of a building material. This includes the energy consumed in the:

  • extraction of raw materials
  • transportation to factory
  • processing & manufacturing
  • transportation to site
  • construction

A unique blend of ancient & modern architectural innovations


The first building in the UK in nearly a century to apply this method of rammed-chalk construction throughout.

Catalan vault

Catalan vault construction – the first building in the UK ever to incorporate this “thin shell”, ultra-sustainable method of roof construction.


Earth-sheltered, high thermal-mass design, with minimal use of concrete hybrid solar-powered heat and energy systems.


The first non-domestic building in the UK to be constructed using “passive-house design” principles.

Collaborative design, inspired by nature

The concept by Helionix Designs blends centuries-old construction methods with the latest advances in building technologies. Flowing with nature’s own creations, the design-and-build collective has delivered a conference centre that is as much a nature-inspired sculpture as it is an example of modern, sustainable architecture.

Interested in adopting a more sustainable approach for your business? 
Contact the team to arrange a meeting.

Continuing to develop low carbon construction

Organic and permaculture food growing

What I’m Doing As part of my food growing internship, I am focusing on organic and permaculture methods of food growing. I aim to create beautiful and productive food growing spaces that benefit the environment and wildlife around them. Selling our produce Currently,...

Katie Tyler – Food Growing Internship

In my Bay Trust internship, I am mostly focused on food growing and getting a hands-on learning experience in the garden.

Internship in sustainable building

Kristian Bird talks about his research project with sustainable building company Helionix Design and his career development through our internship programme.

Kristian Bird

Kristian Bird

Sustainable buildings and infrastructure advisor

Kristian manages our internship programme and is the host for interns when accommodation is required. He also works for Helionix Designs the company behind the Pines Calyx


Sustainable building awards

for architecture, engineering, construction & innovation