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Wimbish Passivhaus

Location: Wimbish, Essex
Completion Status: Summer 2011 Occupancy: Occupied Summer 2011
Architect: Parsons + Whittley Consultant: Davis Langdon
Contractor: Bramall Construction Client: Hastoe Housing Association
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The design of the scheme was largely driven by a consideration of the context of the site and an appreciation of the typical vernacular style of the site and locality. The economic solution of externally applied insulation utilising strong render colours, (which are a feature of that part of Essex) enabled the scheme to sit comfortably within its context. Colours were chosen with a similar tonal balance so as allow the properties to settle into the landscape without competing with each other. It should be noted that these criteria are independent of the Passivhaus objective and illustrate how the methodology can be developed in a range of idioms to suit normal planning and contextual constraints.

East-West orientation was employed so as to profit from passive solar gain and the houses arranged so as the private gardens benefitted from this private ‘solar’ space. Internal layouts were then adopted to provide the primary living rooms on the south side and limit north facing openings to less important spaces such as bathrooms and entrance halls.

Construction methods consisting of thin joint masonry with externally applied insulation and render were chosen both as an economical solution to the performance requirements but also to reflect the client’s preference for using local materials and available local skills. The system had been used by the employer on a number of earlier Code level 4 schemes. Plain, duo-pitched roofs were likewise selected for cost effectiveness and the availability of local materials and skills.

One tenant said, after three months occupation:

 “The low gas bill means that my children will get Christmas presents this year, and if it carries on like this, we might be able to have a family holiday next year” 

Performance Monitoring

The Wimbish Passivhaus development is the subject of a Building Performance Evaluation study supported by the Technology Strategy Board. All 14 units have been equipped with sensors to log energy consumption, thermal comfort, and air quality. Three of the units are more extensively monitored - both in more rooms, and in detail of the performance of the mechanical and electrical systems.

The study includes a University of East Anglia PhD Researcher investigating occupant practices; in particular, how they influence energy consumption, and how they may be modified to reduce consumption.

www.wimbishpassivhaus.com

PROJECT FACTFILE

PROJECT PRESENTATION - UK PASSIVHAUS AWARDS 2012