Passivhaus Affiliate

St Benedict's on track for Passivhaus certification

St Benedict’s is a leading independent Catholic Co-educational School, located in Ealing, West London, providing education from Nursery through to Sixth Form. van Heyningen and Haward Architects (vHH Architects) were appointed to work on two new projects as part of the school’s master plan. After completing an initial Senior School building in November 2015, which accommodates the ADT department as well as the new Sixth Form centre, the second project, the New Ark, is a new build Passivhaus Junior School building to be completed later this year in Autumn 2017.

St Benedict's New Ark. Unless otherwise stated, all images © vHH Architects

Looking to join a growing list of UK Passivhaus schools, the New Ark has started on site and replaces the old ‘Ark’ building, which no longer met modern curricula needs. The New Ark is the first Passivhaus school building for the client, architect and main contractor Jerram Faulks, and consists of: St Benedict's (c) vHH Architects sketch section

•   10 classrooms, specialist accommodation such as learning resource areas and a home economics classroom and integrates the Nursery which is currently off-site. 

•    A secure and welcoming entrance and reception to the Junior School

•    A new glazed link connecting the New Ark Passivhaus building to the existing Junior School building.

•    A new stair and lift to provide full accessibility to both the New Ark and the existing Junior School building.

All classrooms are south facing to get maximum benefit from sunlight whilst solar shading prevents unwanted solar gain and glare.  Nursery and Reception classes have direct access to a secure, outside play area and a canopy provides external sheltered areas for the pupils outside the classroom.

The new building’s series of pitched roofs respond to the rhythm of the surrounding conservation area roof-scape and ‘tumbled’ brickwork on the gables provides articulation to the elevations.

St Benedict's New Ark sketch

St Benedict's New Ark construction

Key Project Facts

TFA: 1142m2

Form Factor: 2.4

Build Start Date: May 2016

Completion: Expected Autumn 2017

St Benedict's New Ark sketch (c) Peter Hanson St Benedict's New Ark, (c) vHH Architects



This low energy building is constructed of solid structural cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels with traditional facing brickwork. CLT panels were chosen over a more traditional masonry construction for their ability to be fabricated off-site, to minimise disruption to the working school, and for their airtightness performance which will contribute to achieving Passivhaus certification. 

St Benedict's New Ark internal wall


CLT frame, Dritherm insulation Brick

U value: 0.11 W/m2K


CLT frame, Jalblite Insulation, Tile

U value: 0.13 W/m2K


Concrete, Jabfloor insulation

U value: 0.21 W/m2K

Windows & Doors

Gutmann MIRA therm - Aluminium composite

U value: 0.75 W/m2K G value: 0.46


Predicted Performance

Thermal Energy demand (≤15kWh/m2.yr)

15 kWh/m2.yr

Thermal Energy load (≤10W/m2)

13 W/m2

Primary E demand (≤120kWh/m2.yr)

105 kWh/m2.yr

n50 ACH@50pascals (≤0.6ach@50pascals)

0.6 ach 

Combining Passivhaus standards of design and construction with a relatively complex building form and traditional facing brickwork has been challenging, and all of us involved in the project are excited to be on target to achieve accreditation. 

St Benedict’s School aims to provide the best possible facilities for their students, so when we proposed a Passivhaus building they were open to the opportunity.  The School will benefit from both the excellent internal working conditions it creates and the long-term economic and environmental advantages of an extremely low energy use building.

Peter Hanson, van Heyningen and Haward Architects


Key Team

Client: St Benedict’s School

Architect: van Heyningen and Haward Architects

Contractor: Jerram Falkus

Consultants: Price & Myers (Structural engineers), Macgregor Smith (landscape)

Passivhaus Consultants: Ingleton Wood (also acting M&E engineers) Etude (contractor’s site support) 

Certifier: WARM


It seems vHH Architects have caught the Passivhaus bug; They are also at the early design stages of a Passivhaus extension to Leicester Cathedral, a Grade II listed structure. Peter Hanson says, "we are excited to be supporting the development of the Passivhaus standard in UK non-domestic sectors."


Further Information

VHH Architects

St Benedict's School 

Previous PHT story: Passivhaus Schools - 13 Feb 2017

Previous PHT story: Students learn from the largest UK commercial Passivhaus - 28 Apr 2017

Previous PHT story: Award winning structural CLT self-build

26th July 2017

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