Passivhaus Affiliate
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Carrowbreck Meadow

Location: Carrowbreck, Norwich, NR6
Completion Status: Certified September 2016 Occupancy: Occupied - first tenant moved in 11/2016
Architect: Hamson Barron Smith Consultant: NPS (Planning, QS, PM, Structural and Civil) WARM (Certifier)
Contractor: R G Carter Client: Broadland Growth Ltd
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Carrowbreck Meadow is a development of 14 Passivhaus homes, the largest of its kind in Greater Norwich. This landmark scheme sets new benchmarks for sustainable development, not only meeting Passivhaus certificationand providing 43% of the site as affordable homes, an over provision of 10%.

The design response is a contemporary rendition of a Norfolk vernacular – defined by several references to the historic barn seen throughout the county. A material pallet of white render, black stained timber cladding and either slate or plain red roof tiles also reflects the materials used in the adjacent Carrowbreck House. The properties have been carefully grouped so the development sits comfortably in its woodland setting. The positioning and orientation of the homes maximises the access to solar gain in winter and prevents over heating in summer.

Carrowbreck Meadow ©Jefferson Smith

Carrowbreck Meadow has delivered an important benchmark for future developments by demonstrating best practice in the design, layout and construction of affordable units within housing developments. The proposal also demonstrates that in a period where affordable housing requirements are being challenged due to the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy and viability issues, the Council can deliver its own high quality housing developments which exceed affordable housing requirements and deliver sustainable buildings while still delivering profit.


Achieving environmental excellence in everything we do is one of our key ambitions and I’m proud of this development. The homes will meet exceptionally high standards of energy efficiency making them much cheaper to run than the average house as well as good for the environment. Selling some of them on a shared equity basis will also help local people looking to get on the housing ladder. We intend this to be the start of development that Broadland Growth will undertake to provide top quality housing in Broadland.

Chairman of Broadland Growth Limited and Broadland District Council Leader, Andrew Proctor


Carrowbreck Meadow Performance

Post Occupancy Evaluation



Carrowbreck was one of the first UK projects to use 300mm precision-engineered Porotherm blocks, a fast, virtually dry construction. With its rapid daily output (30-40m2/man/day), this brought cost and timesaving benefits, while its thermal and acoustic efficiencies will bring further advantages for decades to come with a design life of over 150 years. The system used around 95% less water than traditional blockwork. The blocks achieve an A+ BRE Green Guide rating, with 30% of materials from alternative, recycled or secondary sources and are recyclable at end-of-life. With only around 2% waste provision for the blocks.

The blocks were combined with an external wall insulation, ‘Baumit Open’, an EPS insulation system that is permeable, allowing the walls to breath. Paired with lime plasters and MVHR it helps ensures perfect indoor humidity. The Baumit Open system and lime plasters are from the ‘healthy living’ product ranges successfully tested at the ECO Institute in Cologne in accordance with the strict guidelines of the Sentinel House Institute, making a real contribution to the quality of indoor air. The external render, also vapour open, is microscopically smooth, creating a self-cleaning surface important on this wooded site. 

Carrowbreck Meadow Site Plan NTS


Key Construction Innovations

  • Collaboration has played a key role in the project through interdisciplinary early engagement at every level from planning through construction.
  • The contractor, RG Cater, was keen to develop Passivhaus knowledge and skills through a site based construction rather than relying on a third party to deliver a kit of parts. Along with programmatic benefits, this lead to the decision to use an innovative clay block construction. RG Carter allowed additional management resource to the project to support achievement of the Passivhaus standards, with a designated Passivhaus champion and separate Air-tightness champion. And used a partner to deliver certified Passivhaus tradesperson training to their staff, with the entire project management team completing a 4-day Certified Passivhaus Tradesperson course.
  • These skills and knowledge were employed directly on the project and provide a skill bank to allow the contractor to deliver more energy efficient homes in the future.


Carrowbreck Meadow
Carrowbreck Meadow
Carrowbreck Meadow Carrowbreck Meadow

The award-winning scheme has been recognised by several architecture and construction competitions including RIBA regional and national awards, Housing Design Awards, RTPI awards for planning excellence.


Further Information

Hamson Barron Smith Carrowbreck Meadow Monograph

2017 UK Passivhaus Conference presentation_Post Occupancy Evaluation

RIBA Journal, February 2017

AJ Specification, March 2017

Passivhaus Rules_Building Magazine, March 2017

As a Passive Hub_Passive House Plus, June 2017

2015 UK Passivhaus Conference Presentation_How Norwich City Council is delivering large scale passivhaus developments