Passive House/Passivhaus | Pond | Norfolk Broads

Interior Design / Listed and Conservation / New Build

A new-build house in Stalham Staithe, Norfolk Broads has been designed to Passivhaus (Passive house) principles by London based studio forresterarchitects.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is Britain’s largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway, with the status of a national park it is a particularly sensitive location to new-build developments. The local environment, with light industrial and agricultural uses, is dominated by the large expanse of water, the Barton Broads. Interspersed between the watercourses are rich and varied collections of buildings, which nestle together in the flat typography. There are attractive views in all directions. Contained within each view are the roofs of the buildings of the Broads, which act as dominant visual markers within the landscape, which aid orientation.

From the outset the client was keen to provide an environmentally responsive and sustainably designed solution with the garden pond to remain a central feature. The new house is approx. 110sq/m and comprises of a kitchen, an open plan living room, dining room with three bedrooms and bathrooms and a dedicated utility/plant room. A small pond acts as a focal point to the garden, which will also be the setting for the new house. The ubiquitous barn profile provides a simple form of accommodation, which predominates in the local area. Expressed as an identifiable traditional form, the proposed house draws reference from the vernacular forms, materials and how they are positioned in the landscape. The proposed juxtaposition of the house aims to contribute positively to the local character resulting in a considered roof-scape.

From the initial stages the house has been developed in accordance with the Passivhaus Planning Package (PhPP). The PhPP was used as a key design tool and has been used to refine the building to ensure an energy efficient solution. A Passivhaus is a voluntary building standard that exceeds the statutory requirements of the current UK building regulations. The principles of the Passivhaus concept aims to dramatically reduce the requirement for space heating and cooling, whilst also creating excellent indoor comfort levels. This is primarily achieved by adopting a fabric first approach to the design, specifying high levels of insulation to the thermal envelope with exceptional levels of air tightness. The heating requirements are reduced to the point where a traditional heating system is no longer considered essential. For example, the building is orientated due south but has been turned a further 10 degrees to the East. In the early morning, the bedrooms gain warmth a little earlier from the solar gain from the sun as it rises. In addition, east facing clerestory bedroom windows have been incorporated into building fabric to assist further.

The materials are simple yet robust. The house is clad with rough sawn untreated Siberian Larch, which is used not only for the walls but also across the entire roof. As part of the design strategy and in response to our discussion with the Broads Authority the solar panels appear flush and fully integrated into to the overall roof construction. The installation of solar thermal and photovoltaic panels supplement the environmental strategy with photovoltaic panels used to generate electricity and solar thermal panels used to heat the water. In keeping with the Broads Authority’s desire to encourage sustainable drainage strategies and in keeping with the key principles of the development a sustainable drainage solution was employed. The SuDS proposal adopts a number of techniques. A water permeable terrace collects, treats and stores the rainwater to then release the water slowly into the environment via infiltration swales located towards the bottom of the garden. A rainwater harvesting system has been incorporated for the provision of garden irrigation.

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