Passivhaus Affiliate

Max Fordham House prototypes thermal shutters

Max Fordham House, completed in February 2019, is currently undergoing Passivhaus certification. Designed and built by PHT members bere:architectsMax Fordham and Bow Tie Construction the urban infill scheme features newly developed insulated and automated shutters which Max Fordham hopes will become an energy efficiency solution for future retrofit and low-cost housing projects.

Max Fordham House Max Fordham House Max Fordham House

Designed with windows that are sized and spaced rationally to optimise light without overheating in summer, the new automated thermal shutters are intended to maintain a constant comfortable internal temperature and to defend against extremes both of external cold and heat. 

Max Fordham House - Isometric South Shutter Detail

The horizontally-sliding shutters constructed from insulated vacuum panels are accommodated within the internal fabric of the building. They are automatically operated by a home technology system which simplifies the proper use of the shutters and does not rely on occupants' manual operation. As the shutters are internal, potential complications are easier to note and fix than if external shutters are used.

Max Fordham House

Windows are often the cause of temperature fluctuation, but these reasonably airtight shutters are designed to counterbalance this tendency. The shutters are to be closed on a cold winter night to prevent radiant heat losses ensuring no supplementary heating will be required.

Max Fordham House Max Fordham House

The building frame is concrete with insulated timber walls. South facing windows are shaded with inbuilt timber shading to limit excessive solar gains and maintain privacy. Planning was awarded for the home to be slightly higher than its neighbours which maximises the effectiveness of the 22 solar panels fitted to the roof.  

Key Stats

Max Fordham House - Model

Build Start Date: Sep 2017

Date of Occupation: Feb 2019 

Construction Type: Concrete frame with insulated timber walls 

MVHR: PAUL Novus 300 MVHR. 

Renewables: Daikin Altherma ERSQ011AAV 2-stage ASHP with integrated DHW tank and 22 solar panels

Treated Floor Area (TFA): 145.5 sqm TFA

While maintaining warmth is extremely important, the risk of overheating is also managed, in part, by the shutters which can be closed during hot summer days to limit solar gains and can be opened during summer nights to purge the building of any excessive heat.

Predicted Energy

Airtightness (≤0.6ACH@50pascals)  


Max Fordham House - Isometric South

Thermal Energy Demand (≤15kWh/m².yr)


Thermal Energy Load (≤10W/m²)


Primary Energy Demand (≤120kWh/m².yr)


The largest energy demand in this new-build two-bed terrace home is domestic hot water. A 2-stage air source heat pump with integrated domestic hot water tank provides the heat needed and uses naturally renewed air as its heat source. This process is more efficient in wintertime than summertime but without the need for immersion heating the overall energy efficiency remains high. The heat pump works in tandem with the MVHR system which is fitted throughout.

Max Fordham House
Max Fordham House

The sepia material pallette of brick and timber combined with the shape of the street facing structure, which harkens to that of adjacent homes, helps this new build settle well into its urban streetscape. 

Max Fordham House

The house is already occupied but the effectiveness of the shutters over the hot summer months and the cold winter months is yet to be fully experienced and tested.

While Max Fordham House awaits Passivhaus certification it has recently been recognised in the RIBA London shortlist

Key Team

  • Client: Max Fordham   
Max Fordham House - Kitchen

Further Information

Previous PHT story: RIBA Shortlists 2019 – 28 March 2019

Max Fordham House


All images unless otherwise stated ©bere:architects



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18th April 2019

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