Passivhaus Affiliate

Passivhaus at Graven Hill

Graven Hill overview

A new ‘garden town’ is taking shape in Oxfordshire, and Passivhaus is a large part of it. The development around the small market town of Bicester (best known for its shopping village, the UK’s second most visited tourist attraction) will eventually grow the town by more than 10,000 homes. Of these, 1,900 will be built at Graven Hill, a massive experiment in a new model of housing delivery – it will be the the UK’s largest custom- and self-build housing project, and to simplify the planning process, the subject of the country’s first large scale Local Development Order. It’s also likely to contain the largest concentration of private Passivhaus dwellings in the country.

Choosing Passivhaus

The demanding performance and sustainability requirements set out in the masterplan mean that it’s only a small step further for prospective residents to choose to go all the way to Passivhaus. And it’s a choice that makes sense to people when they have full control over their future living environment. Comfort, low bills, and health benefits from the excellent indoor air quality in a Passivhaus are all strong motivators.

One self-build couple, Dean and Hannah Scott, will soon have their new home Passivhaus certified by PHT member WARM. The architects on the project are PHT member Gresford Architects (who also designed the RIBA award-winning Passivhaus home The Deerings). Dean was also heavily involved in the design details, and managed the project himself via his company Dean Scott Design.

The Cube | Dean and Hannah Scott

Photos ⓒ Dean Scott

Dean and Hannah's home-to-be is a timber-clad and cross-laminated timber built cube. The shape not only maximises the use of the plot but also offers an excellent form factor, a great help in reaching Passivhaus targets. Square windows echo the building’s geometry, and two areas of double height space offer a sense of drama and space indoors. Inward-opening Idealcombi Futura+ triple-glazed windows allow for external roller blinds, to guard against the possibility of overheating. Construction started in April, and the house was watertight last month.


We live locally, and when the opportunity came up to self build in this area, we knew we had to take it. As one of the first to build at Graven Hill, there have been plenty of challenges, but we're making good progress and hope to complete in spring 2019. We're looking forward to living in a community of like-minded people, and we already know most of our neighbours. We currently live in an old cottage, so we can't wait to live in our new Passivhaus and enjoy the comfort and health benefits that it will offer us.

"The build has gone relatively smoothly so far, and a big part of that is down to the amazing work by Jim at ConstrucktCLT and Duncan at Husker who have helped build our cube."

Dean Scott


Do it yourself?

PHT Members in the Graven Hill Trade Directory


Gresford Architects

Build System

Beattie Passive, Potton, MBC Timber Frame, Econekt, ICF, Passivhaus Homes


Green Building Store, Internorm


Green Building Store, NIBE, Airflow, CVC Direct

The innovative development model at Graven Hill enables prospective residents to choose from a sliding scale of customisation. Options range from the ‘tailored finishes’, where a home can be bought off-plan and buyers choose their internal layouts and finishes – through the custom build route, which offers more flexibility while still being an easier project for the client than a full self-build – to the option, for the confident, of choosing a ‘Golden Brick’ plot with services, foundations and pre-planning already organised but all other aspects of the build entirely in the hands of the buyer. For these, detailed planning permission in accordance with the Plot Passport and Graven Hill’s Design Code can be granted in as little as 28 days. Design, build and project management are all up to the home owner.

A Passivhaus-certified build system

Tailored finish homes at Graven Hill | Beattie Passive

Delivery of Graven Hill Development’s tailored finish homes to Passivhaus standard is being realised by PHT member Beattie Passive. Their projects at Graven Hill also include a number of custom builds, and so far, two self-builds – one of which is truly hands-on. This future home-owner has been brave enough to take the whole project into their own hands, and with the help of Beattie’s Training Academy, is building their home from scratch. In total the company have already completed 46 homes. Of these around half, including all the terraced homes, are going all the way to Passivhaus certification, but all follow Passivhaus principles, using the company's continuous insulation timber frame construction method - the first in the UK to achieve Passivhaus certification for a complete build system.


Speedy construction

Beattie Passive's construction process has evolved through the project at Graven Hill, initially with the opening of their first Flying Factory - an on-site construction hub at the heart of the Graven Hill development - and now with the introduction of volumetric modular construction methods, working out of a dedicated new factory in Norfolk. This system makes it possible to erect the structure of a house in a single morning. Pre-built pods can be delivered to site at 6am, and by 11.30, a house has appeared, ready to be clad and fitted out.

Volumetric Modular Flying Factory | Beattie Passive

115+ unique Passivhaus homes

Individual Passivhaus homes have from the beginning advanced the take-up of the standard across the country, from the very first Passivhaus in the UK, Y Foel, certified in 2009. Now, nearly half of all certified Passivhaus projects in the UK (comprising 1000 units) are one-off custom and self-builds. This number is due to be significantly boosted by the new homes at Graven Hill.

If your appetite is whetted for Passivhaus self-build, check out our Passivhaus goes Personal video for further inspiration. And visit the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon on the weekend of 23-24 November, for two days of workshops on building yourself a home to Passivhaus standard, led by Passivhaus Trust members including several who operate at Graven Hill. Beattie Passive, Green Building Store, Enhabit, and Eco Design Consultants will all be present.


Further information

Graven Hill

Passivhaus goes Personal

NSBRC Passivhaus Workshops

15th September 2018

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