The Muse - UK Pioneer 'Towards Passivhaus'

In progress

This energy efficient solar family home currently nearing completion at Newington Green in the London Borough of Islington was designed to set a standard for future housing with an apparently effortless amalgamation of environmentally responsible solutions with beautiful forms, some years before the first Passivhaus was certified in the UK.

Started on site in 2002, when this self-build house is completed it will be one of the most ‘rounded’ ecological buildings in the UK. The Bere family home was started as a self build project in 2002, a few years before Justin discovered the German Passivhaus approach and technical methods that had been developed some years ealier by the German physicist Wolfgang Feist and colleagues from Sweden and USA. In 2002, five years before the UK's first building was certified by the Passivhaus Institute, and before he discovered German passivhaus developments in Germany, Justin started on site with a building that almost exactly complies with the requirements of passivhaus certification (correct wall and roof u-values, design against thermal bridging, triple glazed windows throughout, attempt at air tight construction and the installation of a heat recovery ventilation unit).  

The house is also one of the early examples in the UK of a house covered in green roofs with varying soil depths for native ecological habitats which include two wild flower meadows with a thriving colony of bees, a hazel coppice and a hawthorn thicket. Located immediately behind a terrace of four Grade 1 Listed heritage houses, the roofs contain a garden oasis for residents in the neighbouring taller buildings to look down upon. 

A primary objective of this project is to redefine the language of architecture by the development of forms that are directly generated by the acceptance of the ecological imperatives of the 21st century.