Maccreanor Lavington designs revealed – the first 100% affordable Passivhaus development in UK

Maccreanor Lavington has revealed designs for the pioneering Rainham Passive Housing – the first 100% affordable Passivhaus Certified development in the UK, which has just started on site.

The development on a brownfield site off New Road in Rainham, Essex, will comprise 51 new affordable rented homes with a mix of one, two, three and four-bed dwellings, which are also Lifetime Homes, Mayor’s London Housing Design Guide and Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 compliant. The project is a collaboration of Circle Housing Group and Climate Energy Homes who are developing the site which was acquired from the Greater London Authority (GLA).

A limited number of Passivhaus Certified homes have been constructed in the UK previously, but what is unique about this project is that it comprises entirely affordable homes. This has been made possible both by:

  • The release of the land at a price that reflects its 100% affordability – provided it became an exemplar for sustainability.
  • The use of the ecoTECH Build System. Climate Energy Homes Ltd holds the UK patent for the ecoTECH Build System – a super-insulated timber panel construction system that ensures energy efficiency and speed of delivery.

Maccreanor Lavington’s aim was to provide good quality, sustainable and affordable homes that quietly adopt the principles of the Passivhaus Design Standard.

Working with Passivhaus consultant, Peter Warm Associates, Maccreanor Lavington has designed a simple arrangement of unbroken terraces which are deep on plan and so maintain the low ratio of external envelope to floor area. This simple and efficient envelope is key to maintaining thermal efficiency and air tightness. The size and position of windows has been rigorously considered to balance the requirements for good levels of daylight, minimal heat loss and solar gain.

Two rows of three-storey and one row of two-storey terraces are arranged as a block completed by an apartment building. The terraced houses have front gardens, upright proportions and subtle details that allude to the Georgian and Victorian terraces that make up a large part of London’s most popular housing stock. The apartments are paired around cores in a manner reminiscent of traditional London mansion blocks, where circulation space has a feeling of privacy derived from serving only a few homes. The apartment building, at only three storeys, is no taller than the adjacent terraces and so has a residential scale rather than the scale of a more urban block of flats.

Brick has remained relevant as a primary building material because it is robust, affordable and ages well. It is also intrinsically associated with residential architecture and so is a natural, contextual choice. Timber cladding compliments the brickwork and has a softer, more tactile character with compared masonry.

New residential streets have been designed with consideration to the wider masterplan for the area and the existing planning consents for the adjacent sites. The scheme creates a significant amount of open green space available for both residents and wider community use. It also supports local wildlife by making accessible and cleaning and replanting the watercourse which forms the eastern boundary of the site.

Gerard Maccreanor of Maccreanor Lavington:

“Rainham is a terrific example of how smart thinking, in design and build, can be achieved at reasonable cost and meet the needs of those who need it most. By adopting Passivhaus principles we were able to bring a level of innovation to the project that not only ensured high quality, but the highest standards of sustainability along with affordability – a triumvirate seldom achieved”

Christine Hynes, CEO of Climate Energy Homes:

“We are delighted with the way Maccreanor Lavington have taken our innovative ecoTECH build system and integrated it into a design that combines simple but high quality architecture and materials with high levels of energy efficiency. This is a project that is set to revolutionise the delivery of sustainable new build homes in the UK.”

Richard Blakeway, GLA Deputy Mayor for Housing:

“This is a great example of how public land can be brought back into use for much needed affordable housing. With its excellent green credentials, this development showcases what is possible with innovative, intelligent design.”

Helen Wilson, Group Head of Energy and Green Strategy at Circle Housing Group:

“We are really excited about this new development as it has the potential to reduce our customers heating and hot water costs by up to 80% each year. At Circle we understand the importance of lowering our customers’ energy bills through improved housing and the right advice. This scheme will set a precedent for Circle to continue to deliver highly energy efficient properties and I look forward to seeing more passive house developments in the future.”

  • Client: Climate Energy Homes
  • Architect: Maccreanor Lavington
  • Structural Engineer: BRP Associates
  • M&E / Sustainability Engineer: Warm
  • Planning Consultant: RPS
  • Project Manager / Cost Consultant: PRP
  • Contractor: Climate Energy Homes
  • Developer: Climate Energy Homes