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Passivhaus Plus Blackford dwelling powers ahead

October 29 2020

Passivhaus Plus Blackford dwelling powers ahead

A dated dwelling in Blackford, Edinburgh, is to give way to a modern Passivhaus Plus home - a class of energy-efficient design which stipulates on-site production of all net energy needs.

Driven by Grigor Mitchell Architect the proposals call for the current home on Blackford Avenue to be demolished, opening up the corner plot adjacent to the railway line for the innovative design.

Intended to establish a sense of place in the fragmented suburban environment the new addition will marry standing seam metal cladding on roof elements, which includes an 80sq/m flush-mounted photovoltaic array, with lime render and earthen tone cladding.

Outlining the innovative approach Mitchell wrote: "The structure of the walls and roof is designed as I‐joist timber frame panels with wood fibre insulation to achieve the thermal performance requirements. Visually this creates walls which are thicker than typical buildings. Passivhaus principles of thermal bridge free design and draught-free construction will be rigorously applied during the build to limit heat loss to a minimum. The typical ‘U’ value of these elements is reduced to a maximum of 0.11 W/m2K."

It is calculated that this approach will deliver a 60% saving on CO2 emissions versus a standard timber kit design.  

The current home is described as unsuitable for retrofitting and of poor construction
The current home is described as unsuitable for retrofitting and of poor construction
The striking design seeks to raise standards in an unremarkable corner of the city
The striking design seeks to raise standards in an unremarkable corner of the city


The Bairn
#1 Posted by The Bairn on 29 Oct 2020 at 14:49 PM
Ok boys admit it. The site was cheap. The old building was not on trend but we fancied a brand new house anyway.
Seems to me that the primary 'passive' element was the architects imagination for a suitable design solution.
At least the locals waiting on the bus will have something new to look at. They might even say WOW!!
#2 Posted by David on 29 Oct 2020 at 16:04 PM
It may well be Passivhaus but it would have been infinitely more sustainable to retain and upgrade the existing building.
town planner
#3 Posted by town planner on 29 Oct 2020 at 19:44 PM
Obviously? The solution here was to keep the nice stone part of the old building and get rid of the rest. Does it come with the bus shelter?
#4 Posted by Philip on 29 Oct 2020 at 20:56 PM
oh dear.
This is a real pity. Not just because the existing building are quite charming, but because I am going to have to pass this monster ever morning.
So out of context and clumsy looking.
#5 Posted by Polly on 30 Oct 2020 at 10:19 AM
Philip, is it the most offensive building of the street? Start with the 10 storey monster at the corner????
Think green and forward!
#6 Posted by Philip on 30 Oct 2020 at 14:10 PM
Fair point Polly. Thats two clumsy, incongruous buildings I'll have to pedal past. Due to mature trees, muted materials and its tall context (the 8 storey apartment block across the road and the elevated context to the south) the 'tower' offends less. It's not pretty I admit.
So what exactly is 'green' about knocking down existing buildings to replace with a single zinc and white render clad dwelling fro one person/family?
Building a passive house doesn't trump the need for a building to respond to context. The form, materials (sorry architects- materiality) and relationship to the street edge is very poor.
T H Ford
#7 Posted by T H Ford on 30 Oct 2020 at 19:29 PM
The existing buildings along that street are of different periods. Some have weathered well and grown into the area, whilst others, particular it seems those of the last 40 years have age less well and still look out of keeping with the local surrounding despite the development of the foliage to hide them, as they did when they were first built. The nature and requirements of a Passivhaus design doesn't mean to be so stand-outish, in fact many previous buildings that are can, if designed well, look to fit in seamlessly to an area if the right materials and style are chosen. In this current climate, design and constructing a building that doesn't pay attention to the ideas of that, and using materials which in the 10-20 years will likely need to be replaced, and not weather as well, is a frankly a waste and definitely is not green or carbon neutral.
Better, as Philip says if the design took points from the context, from the materials on site and around the area and look to reused what is already there to provide a building which not only meats the passivhaus ethos but also the lower the carbon footprint.

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