Practice

Bere:architects is an award-winning architectural practice, passionately delivering the ultimate in beautiful, comfortable, high-performance and truly sustainable buildings. We deliver the future of architecture right now.

We are a highly-motivated, hugely committed and compact team of very selective architects. We are committed to a vision of an intelligently and responsibly designed world where mankind lives within the energy harvested from renewable resources for all our needs including buildings, transport and industry; a world in which we live pollution-free; in perfect harmony with nature, and all the 10 million other species with whom we share the planet.

Our buildings are almost unique in mostly being compatible with this vision, looking after the needs of our clients with great care, but without compromising the needs and opportunities of the future – this is the very definition of sustainability.

For more than 20 years we have strived to improve both the creative and technical aspects of our buildings. Step by step they have got better because this is truly a much greater priority for us than personal ambition. By 2005 our methods were already aligned with those of the scientifically advanced Passive House Institute in Germany and we were arguably the first practice in the UK to advocate such rational, mathematical methods of design as an imperative upon which to build creativity. Now we are world-leaders in the concepts of ‘plus-energy’ buildings and ‘building-as-power stations’.

We are widely respected and trusted for our integrity and that of our clients, not least among local authority planning departments and this brings with it significant commercial advantages for our clients, rewarding them for their genuine commitment to the health of communities and the environment.

See some of our projects here.

What we do

If you look ‘under the bonnet’ of our buildings, finishes to foundations, all you will find is excellence, through and through.

This is increasingly rare, and only possible by our untiring commitment, experience and ability to maintain meticulous quality control at every stage of design and construction. This is a claim supported by the government-funded researchers, students and academics who have studied our Passive House (or Passivhaus) buildings, reported on them, and lauded them for their exceptional performance, health and comfort in operation as well as in design.

However, unlike product design, every one of our projects is bespoke, and needs to be designed for the very particular requirements and unique complexities surrounding the social and working lives of our clients.

We are experts in ecological timber-framed modular design and have experience across a range of advanced techniques. We work closely with one of Europe’s leading producers of modular building and hotel-box manufacturers. We introduce modular design into our buildings wherever possible, and we are expert at understanding when this will bring advantages to a project and when the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

Our work encompasses pioneering plus-energy buildings; Passivhaus Plus, Passivhaus and Enerphit new-build and deep-retrofit buildings in both public and private sectors. Our range of work includes dwellings (a broad range of exceptionally high-specification private homes as well as economical, nurturing social housing), places of work, places of study and learning, historic monuments, public space, transport and renewable energy infrastructure projects.

design + craft


passive house

Our fabric-first approach delivers superb comfort and durability, cutting energy bills and is kind to the planet. Over 20 years, we have been perfecting our ‘fabric-first’, Passive House, approach, creating ultra-low-energy buildings. A fabric-first approach, using Passive House techniques, allows us to cost-effectively deliver both outstanding ecological performance as well as comfortable and healthy interior environments, with minimal running costs, which will continue to perform over time. Simply put, Passive House (Passivhaus) is about using permanent (‘passive’) building elements like walls and windows to minimise heat leaking out of the building and cold coming in, whilst using free heating sources (e.g. the sun) whenever possible.


deep sustainability

We are constantly striving to make our buildings even better for our clients and the planet. From ecological water systems to buildings as power stations, we are pushing the bounds. In addition to applying Passive House principles, we adopt a number of other approaches and technologies to provide our clients with truly sustainable buildings.

How we work

We provide full architectural services, combining award-winning design with ground-breaking r+d.

We can provide a complete package of architectural design services, from project inception, through early stage design, technical design, contract administration on site, to completion, commissioning, and post occupancy evaluation.

Since being founded by Justin Bere in 1994, bere:architects have developed and refined a design-led and data-driven approach, tailoring our approach to each client’s individual needs, while incrementally improving the performance of our projects – through research, monitoring and user feedback – to deliver the best possible outcomes.

Our unique methodology brings together award-winning design; comprehensive and meticulous construction documentation and quality assurance; and rigorous building science and research, including working with scientific/academic partners. This enables us to deliver world-class performing buildings for our clients, as well as helping to set the benchmarks for sustainable performance across the industry.


Briefing

We work with you to develop an initial brief, including a sustainability strategy, for your project. We then explore the brief with appropriate feasibility study work, helping us and you build a deep understanding of the project, the requirements, and the potential opportunities.

Leadership

We typically take on the role of Lead Designer coordinating all other consultant’s work and Principle Designer (coordinating CDM health and safety information). This provides our clients with a single point of contact of the project day-to-day.

Strong consultant team

We can provide a streamlined workflow, collaborating with our trusted partners, with years of experience in low-energy and Passive House construction (including structural engineer, energy modeller, cost consultant, mechanical and electrical services engineer). This allows us to reliably deliver the best results for your project.

Cost control

We strongly advise working with a cost consultant / QS from a very early stage to obtain budget guidance to help steer the design process. This experienced, independent consultant will then produce regular updates to the cost information as the project is developed, letting you make informed decisions on cost.

Soft landings

We use the Soft Landings methodology to effectively engage the client, building users and design team, through briefing, design, construction, handover, and use. The process ensures user needs are embedded in the brief and design, the right information is available at the right time, robust procedures are agreed, and appropriate decisions are made at every stage.


Comprehensive and friendly design process

We work with you, and the design team we a have assembled with you, to develop the outcomes of the feasibility studies and concept design into a building design that you are satisfied with and that is detailed enough to submit a planning application.

Planning permission on difficult sites

We pride ourselves on our good relations with the planning departments we work with. Numerous of our projects, even on potentially controversial sites, have received high praise from planners and local residents alike, and are now used by the planners are exemplars for other architects.

Our positive, proactive approach with planners and neighbours combined with our genuine and authoritative approach to environmental sustainability, often results in quick planning approvals granted under delegated powers (avoiding confrontational committee decisions).

Energy modelling

Where very high performance is required (e.g. Passive House projects) our in-house team or experienced Passive House designers work collaboratively with an energy consultant to produce a comprehensive energy model, ensuring that we can achieve the client’s desired building energy performance. We use PHPP (Passive House Planning Package) software starting with an outline model during Stage 2-3 and developing this into a detailed, accurate pre-construction model.


Detailed construction information

With years of experience, we design not only for performance that lasts, but also cost-effective buildability. We produce detailed construction information enabling contractors to accurately price schemes and build efficiently.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

On complex projects and/or projects where the client desires it, we use BIM (Building Information Modelling) to enable detailed coordination of building elements and construction information earlier in the design process and pre-emptively resolve potential issues before getting on site.

Contemporary and traditional / heritage techniques

Traditional and modern techniques: The practice aims to create a bridge between the past and the future, bringing together the historic and the contemporary as far as possible. Our respect for traditional techniques does not hinder us from using modern materials and techniques where their use is sustainable. We take advantage of indigenous materials, techniques, traditions and industries when they can be sourced locally without compromising cost, environmental concerns or the appearance of the finished product. We acknowledge the value of history and location while expressing the beauty inherent in a modern ecological approach.


Off-site construction

Where appropriate we use off-site construction to reduce costs and speed up work on site, while delivering higher-quality buildings.

Regular site visits and on-site training to contractors

We work closely with the contractor and construction team, in particular as they deliver energy performance / Passive House elements of the scheme. This includes regular site visits, mid-construction airtightness testing (testing for problematic air leaks), and sometimes providing hands-on training.


Commissioning

Together with the construction team, we carry out comprehensive commissioning of our projects, ensuring that building systems have been installed and set up correctly.

We also have the ability in-house to carry out checks such as thermal imaging to give you complete peace of mind that your building will perform as intended, if used correctly, without the all too common ‘performance gap’.

User guidance

We also take great care to help building users and/or facilities management teams know how to operate and maintain their buildings. We provide easy to understand User Guides and visit to provide advice and training.

Post-construction support

Unlike most practices, we believe our role doesn’t stop when construction is complete. We stay in touch with occupants to provide support and gain feedback. Our post-construction service brings together and checks the outcomes from the Soft Landings process that we carry out throughout design and construction.

Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE)

We also undertake detailed post-occupancy evaluation (POE) and monitoring of our buildings – often with scientific/research partners – measuring things like energy use, temperature, humidity, air quality, and water use. This ensures that users get the best out of their buildings as well as meaning that our clients benefit from the learning of all our previous projects.

Our r+d publications help to set benchmarks for sustainable performance across the industry.

People

We are a passionate team, committed to creating beautiful, ecologically sound, life-enhancing buildings.

Justin Bere

Director, Architect

BA(Hons) DipArch RIBA

Justin Bere has over 25 years’ experience as an architect. He founded bere:architects in 1994; a practice driven by the environmental imperatives of our time, as well as the design ethos of Alvar Aalto (1898-1976). He remains deeply involved in all project work, from inception to completion.

While highly motivated by creative design, it was clear to Justin from the outset that scientific rigour was also needed to deliver on environmental commitments. Justin’s search for this first led him to discover architects Brenda and Robert Vale, whose ideas were formative on him as a teenager.

Years later, soon after establishing bere:architects, this ongoing research brought him into contact with Max Fordham who helped him develop the environmental strategy for his own self-build house.

In 2005 the same search for rigour led Justin to the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, and in 2007 he met Wolfgang Feist who had developed a scientific method for architects to calculate the design of buildings for comfort, health and high-performance. From 2005 Passive House methods began to be incorporated into the practice’s projects and from 2010 a dialogue developed with Wolfgang Feist about the results from the UK’s first Passive House buildings and about Justin’s book ‘An Introduction to Passive House’ (2014) which became a best-seller for RIBA Publications.

With a few other people, Justin set up the UK's first Passivhaus Conference and he co-founded the UK's Passivhaus Trust.  He has been involved in industrial research partnerships, co-delivered peer-reviewed academic publications on building performance and has participated in professional committees and initiatives, including the RIBA Sustainable Futures Group. 

When Wolfgang Feist launched the concepts of ‘Passive House Plus’ and ‘Passive House Premium’, bere:architects began a UK pilot ‘Passive House Plus’ house. In 2017 the publication of two years in-use performance demonstrated how a small house in the UK can produce more than twice as much energy in a year as it uses, paying off the carbon-debt incurred in its construction while being a key power-station component in a smart, sustainable energy grid.

Justin has recently returned to athletics and is currently climbing within the ranks of the UK’s top 40 athletes of his age-grade over 5000 metres. In October 2017 he achieved an age-grading of 87.1 which is a comfortable national class ranking and is 2.9 points beneath a world class ranking according to tables compiled by the world governing body for masters (veterans) in track and field.

Alex Whitcroft

Director, Architect, Certified Passive House Designer

BA(Hons) MArch DipArch ARB FRSA CEPH

An architect and certified Passivhaus designer, Alex is passionate about both environmental and socio-economic sustainable design.

A Londoner by upbringing, Alex has travelled extensively and lived in various places, including Malawi and Missouri.

Alongside years of experience in sustainable construction in the UK, he has previously lived and worked as an architectural designer in ecovillage USA, for 2 years, and worked with as Architectural Lead at the WikiHouse Foundation (wikihouse.cc), developing their digitally fabricatable building system and online procurement platform.

He is also trained facilitator, was member of the Living Building Challenge UK Collaborative steering group, is a member of the RIBA Sustainable Futures Advisory Group, RSA Fellow, and regularly advises and speaks on sustainable construction, digital fabrication, community, open/cooperative organisations, and the collaborative economy.

He studied architecture at Cardiff University – where he received a First and the Ty Alwyn Lloyd Scholarship at Bachelors and a Distinction and the Wyn Thomas Prize at Masters – writing his dissertation on closed loop manufacturing and steady state economics.

Laura Davila

Associate Director, Architect (UK and Spain)

ARB COAM

Laura is an ARB (UK) and COAM (Spanish) registered architect with a strong focus in sustainable architecture and design.

After her studies, Laura co-founded Square Arquitectura an architectural practice based in Spain. The projects that she managed during this time, highlighted to her the importance of sustainable design in reducing the energy performance and carbon footprint of a building. To further her expertise in this area, Laura decided to study a Master’s degree in Sustainable and Green Architecture at ANAS Association in Spain, focused on cost-effective and self-sufficient buildings. She has now made this a focus in her career.

After two years running her own architectural practice, Laura decided to move to London looking for new personal and professional experiences, and with the idea of furthering her learning and experience in the area of sustainable architecture and Passive House.

She believes that architects have a key role to play in tackling the current climate change epidemic, and she aims to re-connect architecture to the natural world by designing high-performance buildings that respond to their surrounds and are connected to their ecosystem.

Laura joined bere:architects at the beginning of 2016. With her well-established skill base and work ethic, she has become a key member of our team.

She studied architecture at ETSAM, the Madrid Polytechnic University in Spain. During her studies she also gained experience working in a number of architectural practices, as well as competing in student design competitions where she received an Honourable Mention at the International Velux Award among others.

Join our team

We do not currently have any vacancies, but are always interested in hearing from passionate and talented people.  If you are interested in working with us, and please send your CV and short sample portfolio to office.management@bere.co.uk and we will be in touch next time we are hiring.

Awards

Our work has won numerous awards, for both design and sustainability.