Passivhaus is a solution
“Soaring gas prices are coinciding at a time when sustainable construction techniques and low-energy demand buildings are tangible solutions to ensuring homes are more affordable from cradle-to-grave.
We must make sure that meticulous attention to detail is applied from the offset, in order to achieve a high level of comfort for clients, at minimal cost to them, as well as negligible impact on the environment.”
Richard Fellows, Director, Quattro Design Architects
It’s Shared Ownership Week and we asked Quattro’s Director of Housing, Richard Fellows, his thoughts about the future of Affordable Housing design
The government’s Affordable Homes Programme 2021 to 2026, certainly provides some optimism for the delivery of much needed Affordable Housing; however, there is still plenty of opportunity to improve the design of Affordable Homes.
There is no doubt that going forwards, Passivhaus has an important role to play. Our inhouse Passivhaus designers bear testimony to our commitment to support clients and partners in their determination to decarbonise communities and deliver net zero homes.
A Passivhaus building has improved airtightness and thermal performance characteristics leading to a vast reduction in heat loss and lower energy demand; this contributes to lower carbon emissions and generates significant savings on energy bills. Additionally, the design methodology is extremely rigorous, and buildings are a better build quality.
A significant advantage is that energy bills for completed schemes are closely aligned to design predictions and this addresses the ‘Performance Gap’ – a significant problem in standard building practice. This means bills are predictable and can be budgeted for; no more nasty surprises. Such technology is a bedrock for supporting families in the management of their finances; it facilitates savings and impacts positively on health and wellbeing.
What else can we do to improve Affordable Housing?
Looking to the future, Passivhaus Design is just one way we can improve the standard of living for inhabitants of Affordable and Social Housing. This week Toby Lloyd, former Housing Adviser to the Prime Minister and Head of Policy at Shelter has been speaking about the importance of improving existing contexts. We’ve heard a lot in the press about the important issue of retrofitting our existing stock of “leaky homes” in our mission to decarbonise communities but in a wider context, Lloyd points out the importance of making neighbourhoods more attractive in order for them to thrive.
He suggests we could be lining the streets with trees and creating environments where children are safe to “ride tricycles”, where businesses will choose to set-up and where people will want to live. He makes the point that in order to prosper, communities must first be more attractive. On Monday we saw the launch of the report of No Place Left Behind: the Commission into Community Prosperity and Placemaking. The Commission, chaired by Lloyd, and initiated by the Create Streets Foundation, seeks to help ensure that levelling up benefits those that live and work in ‘left behind’ places.
Awards are encouraging but it is our Inhabitants' feedback that really counts
At Quattro we also know it is the experience of inhabitants that is the real testimony to whether a design is successful. I remember the day when we met “Gavin”, Veteran Self-Builder at the Waterworks Lane project in Leominster, the first Veteran Self-Build scheme in Herefordshire. It was a blue-sky day back in March this year and he was tending his raised vegetable beds. He radiated pride and joy.
“I love living here. I’m a veteran and I helped build this place. It’s so clean and tidy – everything is new it makes you want to look after it. I’ve just planted up my herb bed. If only more people could have somewhere to live like this…”
Keeping inhabitants at the centre of Affordable Housing Design is the future.
Keeping inhabitants at the centre of Affordable Housing Design is the future. We are committed to optimising the health and wellbeing of inhabitants and ensuring our designs will be climate-ready, environmentally sensitive and maximise a building’s energy efficiency.
Quattro, as a practice, emerged from Solon Housing Association over 35 years ago when our mission was to focus on social and environmental architecture. We were on topic. Today, social value and benefitting society, the communities and the individuals we work with, as well as our environment, still lie at the heart of our ethos.
British Homes Awards
We are delighted to have supported Selwood Housing Group in the delivery of Margaret Stancomb which has been shortlisted in the Affordable Housing category.
Winners will be announced in October.
If you would like to know more about our expertise in delivering technically strong, striking and sustainable housing design, contact Richard Fellows, Director of Housing, Quattro Design Architects.