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Steel Farm

Location: Northumberland, North East England
Completion Status: Completed February 2013 Occupancy: Occupied since February 2013
Architect: Mark Siddall, LEAP: Low Energy Architectural Practice Consultant: Mechanical Services: Alan Clarke, Airtightness, Windows, Doors & MVHR: Green Building Store, Certifier: Kym Mead.
Contractor: J.D. Joinery and Building Client: Trevor & Judith
Certification: February 2015 Certifier: MEAD
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Small Projects WINNER: UK Passivhaus Awards 2015. A reinterpretation of the traditional farmstead. Materials, form and proportion are in harmony with the region; culminating in a vibrant home with a distinct sense of place.

Steel Farm is located near Hexham in the North Pennine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Built using traditional construction technology it is the first Certified Passivhaus in Northumberland.

As organic farmers Trevor and Judith Gospel owned a plot of land where they dreamt of building a comfortable home that could accommodate them in their old age and minimise their impact upon the environment. More than anything Trevor and Judith longed to build their own home so their grandchildren could come and stay.

In the mean time they rented a small, bitterly cold bothy with damp walls and mould in the bathroom. There wasn’t enough space for their grandchildren to stay over, the inside of their fridge was warmer than in their living room, the wood burning stove spewed soot and particulates into the living room, making the bothy unsuitable for habitation.

Finances were tight so careful consideration had to be given to the budget at all times. The remote rural location, limited access to utility mains, and onerous planning restrictions incurred significant costs and have strongly influenced design. 

A number of conditions imposed by the local planning department increased costs and nearly prevented the Gospel’s from building their dream home. Delicate negotiations were undertaken to demonstrate the value offered to the local and regional economy, and the environment. This saw the removal of a requirement to provide expensive tabling and two costly chimneys. 

Ultimately all planning criteria were fulfilled without compromising the client’s desire for a sustainable low energy home. The Passivhaus Standard was achieved. AECB Water Standards informed the design and minimised demand for domestic hot water without compromising comfort. The house features a solar thermal system for domestic hot water and a reed bed system for the treatment of foul waste water. A simple cost effective condensing LPG boiler provides the remaining heat.

Trevor and Judith now live in their new, comfortable, spacious family home. The walls are washed with natural daylight and the windows frame views of the rolling hills (allowing surveillance of the livestock). The lights are rarely used and the grandkids now come to stay.

View an in-depth case study at, and for a limited time get an opportunity to visit Northumberland’s first Passivhaus.


Further Information



UK Passivhaus Awards 2015 Presentation

Pioneering Stone Passivhaus: Build It Magazine




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