We’ve been talking about sustainable design for a long time, and it’s great when we get to put our thoughts into actions. We always take a fabric first approach to sustainable design, which means maximising the performance of the materials used in a project, such as exceeding the minimum levels of insulation, efficient window systems, architectural details that provide airtightness etc. We have even experimented with quite a lot of our ideas at my house in Clapham, which you can read about here and see in the photograph below:
However, some projects demand that we go further, such as a new project we’re working on in Havant, Hampshire. Our client is keen to create a property that works to Passivhaus standards. You can find out more about Passivhaus here, but essentially, it’s an international design standard for buildings that use low levels of energy.
This project is in collaboration with The Healthy Home, a specialist consultancy that helps to drive energy efficiency in buildings. We have been appointed by the client twice before – for projects in the UK and Italy – which is a lovely vote of confidence. Their brief on the project is simply to make a floor plan that works well, in a building that looks good and meets the Passivhaus standard for energy efficiency. Sounds simple, right?
Well, no. There are a host of constraints that make this an interesting project, including the ground conditions on site, access to the back land plot, amendments to the existing planning permission and, as always, the budget.
Never the less, we always love a challenge, and after 30 years in practice, we’ve overcome plenty. This scheme is a particularly interesting one. We’re using a timber frame construction method, and some other notable features you might expect in a sustainable home include a green roof – more than the basic sedum roof, more wildflower meadow and potentially vegetable garden too – solar photovoltaic panels and charred timber cladding.
The project is not on site yet, but I’m excited to see this one come together and ultimately to see the difference good design can make to the energy performance of a building. With the growing evidence of climate change, it’s clear we need to make all buildings as energy efficient as possible, and this one will undoubtedly achieve just that.