The way in which we design, build and inhabit our homes is playing an increasingly significant role as concerns about energy conservation continue to rise.
As contemporary architects, our goal is to thoughtfully combine passive design principles alongside a high performing building envelope and on-site renewable energy generation, to create sustainable architecture in a host of varied landscapes.
This holistic approach enables us to create buildings that require very little energy for heating/cooling and maintain a high level of comfort within an exemplary architectural design.
Successful implementation of sustainable contemporary architecture requires attention to detail at every stage of the design and construction process. However, the key to creating a truly sustainable architecture begins with a small number of fundamental design decisions at the outset of the project.
The site drives many of these decisions and we therefore prioritise an early understanding of the site’s context, opportunities and constraints. These varied factors influence the building’s position and orientation, the architectural form, the amount of external space exposed, the provision of shelter, and the potential effects on existing trees and ecological systems.
Passive Solar Orientation
We strive to work with the site to strategically position the building and its glazing. Where possible when designing residential architecture, we aim to take advantage of passive solar gain by orientating the building on an east-west axis, significantly reducing heating demands.
The building’s form and size impacts upon its energy efficiency. Considering the ratio of exposed envelope to usable internal volume can help guide key design moves on a site.
Shallow floor plans with high ceiling and dual aspect all contribute to achieving good levels of natural ventilation and natural daylighting but need to be considered at an early design stage.
The design of our Passivhaus Premium project on the south coast which incorporates efficient form, optimum solar orientation and a high-performance thermal fabric within a contemporary aesthetic
In warmer months, passive cooling techniques are essential to prevent overheating. We incorporate shading strategies, such as roof overhangs or external blinds/ louvres into the design at an early stage to mitigate excessive sunlight. An integrated and thoughtful landscape design can also play an essential part of this strategy, keeping indoor space cool, whilst improving well-being and providing a biodiverse habitat.
The orientation of Treetops maximises large areas of south-facing glazing alongside deep roof overhangs and external louvres to maximise solar energy and thermal gain, whilst mitigating overheating.
Optimised Building Envelope
Once these key design principles are in place, a high-performance building fabric is specified to minimise heat loss.
This includes extensively insulating the building envelope and minimising thermal bridging through building components to mitigate heat transfer between the indoor and outdoor environments and maintain a consistent indoor temperature.
We specify triple-glazed windows/ doors with insulated frames, to reduce heat loss and gain and the structure is designed to be as airtight as possible, reducing the infiltration of outdoor air and preventing drafts.
We often internally expose materials with high thermal mass, such as concrete or stone to assist in storing and releasing heat slowly throughout the day. When combined with night-cooling, this approach helps regulate indoor temperatures, creating a more stable and comfortable environment for occupants.
While an airtight fabric is crucial, purge ventilation and controlled background ventilation is equally important for maintaining indoor air quality. A mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery ensures a steady supply of fresh air while recovering heat from the exhaust air, making the house energy-efficient and comfortable year-round.
In the realm of modern architecture, our understanding that the path towards low-energy, high-comfort living begins with a handful of fundamental design choices forged at the project’s inception, enables us to successfully incorporate these passive design principles into the homes we design.
From solar orientation to optimal building envelopes and intelligent ventilation systems, each element plays a vital role in creating homes that epitomise a new standard of sustainable living. As the world seeks solutions to energy challenges, embracing these early design principles plays a vital role in developing a more sustainable and harmonious future.