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British Passivhaus stars pipped at post in Bulgarian contest

The Cotswolds-based practice behind England’s first Passivhaus has received an honourable mention in a sustainable design contest in Bulgaria

Seymour-Smith Architects was one of four firms to narrowly miss out on the top prize in the competition to design a Passivhaus near Sofia.

Judges said the Seymour-Smith-led entry featured ‘beautiful sustainable design in material and construction’.

They praised the details of facades, and the ‘wonderful’ presentation of the project.

Seymour-Smith designer Rob Statham said the practice’s performance had been a pleasant surprise and could pave the way for its first work in Europe.

‘It was a great opportunity to try something different and to design to a different vernacular,’ he told AJ.

‘We would love to work in Scandanavia, where they are several steps ahead of the UK in Passivhaus, or in Eastern Europe.’


The two-stage open ideas competition sought 120m² to 180m² schemes that proved Passivhaus homes could be ‘affordable and beautiful’. Entries had to meet an annual heating and cooling requirement of 15 kWh per m² per year.

The competition was won by dontDIY and Asian European Engineering.

Seymour-Smith’s Underhill House was certified in 2010 as the first Passivhaus in England.

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