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River Studio

Location: Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
Completion Status: Occupied & Certified Occupancy: Occupied December 2013
Architect: Sjölander da Cruz Architects Consultant: Passivhaus Consultant: Nick Grant, M&E Engineer: Alan Clarke, Structural Engineer: Bob Johnson
Contractor: Arden Construction Limited Client: Sjölander da Cruz Architects
Certification: May 2014 Certifier: WARM
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Finalist in the Bespoke Project Design category of the UK Passivhaus Awards 2014. River Studio was originally a packing shed for a market garden and is located in greenbelt just outside of Leamington Spa. Sjölander da Cruz Architects acting as both Client and Architect were passionate about repurposing old buildings and wanted to experience, hands-on, the practical requirements of developing their own Passivhaus Enerphit studio from an eyesore asbestos clad shell.

As the existing building is in greenbelt, the orientation of the studio and position on site was defined. This presented challenges throughout the process of design and construction for meeting the PH Enerphit standard.

The design optimises daylighting and frames vistas; this balances visual comfort with great views of the beautiful surroundings, encouraging creativity and enhancing wellbeing. The studio layout is simple and democratic. The serviced spaces, WC and kitchen are accommodated together with the plant, to the north side, allowing the studio space to be double aspect. Artificial lighting has been designed to be efficient, reducing energy consumption whilst animating the spaces.

Risk of overheating was reduced by the introduction of brise soleil and overhangs in the walls as well as utilising cross ventilation throughout the spaces. Service runs are expressed, which will allow future flexibility and fit in with the simple use of materials and finishes.

The final air test achieved 0.4 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals. The predicted heating energy demand result was 18kWh/m2yr well within Passivhaus Enerphit requirements (25kWh/m2yr).

The re-purposing of this unpromising building is an example of how imaginative re-use can be better than a new build option!

Key Project Innovations:

  • Wrapping Existing Structure and Layering of Structurally Insulated panels and Cladding to provide continuous airtight and wind tight layer outside of structural zone.
  • Additional layer of insulation to the SIPs resulted in innovative use of cladding fixings and details avoiding thermal bridging.
  • Junctions between existing structure, foundations and new elements to ensure a continuous airtight and windtight layer to limit potential thermal bridging.
  • Sequencing of Works around existing Structure and Foundations.
  • Keeping within Existing Volume and Footprint whilst maximising treated floor area.
  • Maximising Daylighting to reduce requirement for artificial lighting.
  • Collaborative working with Contractor, Design Team, subcontractors and suppliers


Further Information:

Sjolander da cruz Architects






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