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Passivhaus leaves home

Public buildings in the UK are now winning the rigorous German standard, writes Hattie Hartman

Two new primary schools in Wolverhampton by Architype and Bere Architects’ Mayville Community Centre in London are among the first certified non-domestic Passivhaus projects to complete in the UK, indicating the growing traction of the radical German standard.

The schools were submitted to planning after just five months and delivered on budgets of approximately £2,000/m². The compressed design programme is apparent in some design details, but these are compensated by the quality of daylight and generosity of space achieved by the careful positioning of clerestories and the creation of cheerful hub teaching areas.

Architype has now adopted Passivhaus as its ‘default’ approach for all projects. Work in the pipeline includes another school in Wolverhampton, a number of one-off houses, housing schemes, an archive centre and other schools - all Passivhaus.

In the heart of the Mayville Estate in north London, Bere Architects has cloaked a graffiti-laden brick Victorian building in 300mm of external insulation and white render to achieve Passivhaus standard. Thoughtful detailing succeeds in making elements such as existing window openings and different existing mezzanine balustrades form part of a coherent whole, while glazed partitions which bring borrowed light into the main hall are a surprising intervention, and seem a risky proposition for a hard-wearing community facility.

Bere Architects will occupy the basement premises, and is currently funding a weekly yoga class in the main hall to offset against future rent. Alongside a number of residential projects, the practice is currently working with two housing associations to explore procurement routes for Passivhaus products.

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