Passivhaus Affiliate

Oak Tree Passivhaus vies for RIBA regional award

In the wake of Goldsmith Street's Stirling win, and the growing strength of the Architects Declare movement, the Trust is encouraged to see changes taking place to architecture awards judging, as higher quality construction & sustainable considerations gain more weight and recognition.

The RIBA North East Award includes on its shortlist Oak Tree Passivhaus, a single-family home nestling into a steeply sloping rear garden plot in Whickham, Tyneside, wrapped around a protected mature oak.

Completed in 2019, the private dwelling was designed and built by PHT member Shawm and architects MawsonKerr - already dedicated to building exemplar sustainable and energy efficient buildings, they've now delivered their first certified Passivhaus.


Oak Tree Passivhaus | photo by Jill Tate


Cut into the slope, the house makes the most of the view across the River Derwent and the countryside beyond, keeping the living spaces on the top floor. Large windows to the south and west, together with a generous balcony overhang, timber louvres and deep reveals, maximise solar gain while mitigating against summer overheating.

 Oak Tree Passivhaus | photo by Jill Tate

Constructed with a twin timber frame filled with mineral wool insulation, the building minimises the use of steel - the balcony's cantilever is achieved with glulam timber and bespoke plywood beams. The only steel on the project is in the timber connections and the fins from which the balcony deck is hung. The timber cladding is locally sourced, and stone from the site itself has also been used within the project.

A Paul Novus MVHR unit, designed and supplied by PHT members Green Building Store, is located in the centre of the building on the lower ground floor, to minimise duct runs. A good airtightness result was achieved with the use of Intello membranes and careful attention to detail.

Key Team

Architects: MawsonKerr

Contractors: Shawm

Structural Engineers: James Christopher Consulting

Consultants: Green Building Store

Certifier: WARM


Oak Tree Passivhaus | photo by Jill Tate
Oak Tree Passivhaus | photo by Jill Tate  

Energy performance

Thermal energy demand (≤15): 14 kWh/m².yr

Thermal energy load (≤10): 11 kWh/m².yr

Primary energy demand (≤135): 81 kWh/m².yr

Primary energy renewable demand: 59 kWh/m².yr

Airtightness (≤0.6): 0.36 ACH

All photos © Jill Tate


Further information


RIBA North East shortlist

17th March 2020

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