Designed by Gresford Architects and only recently completed, this is a house of rare architectural quality in a village setting in Berkshire. It is four-bedroom property that’s one of only a small number in the UK whose impressive energy performance has merited a certification by the renowned Passivhaus organisation.
It can be found overlooking open farmland in a residential area in the village of Downend, just north of Chieveley and about five miles from the larger town of Newbury (from where trains runs to London in 55 minutes).
The house is approached along a partially-shared driveway belonging to the house that provides parking for two cars (there is also an electric car charging point). A gate leads into the landscaped gardens that surround the house, with a short garden path that leads to the front door. Beyond the front door is an entrance hall with a kitchen / dining room to the right and living room to the left. The living room has full-height sliding glass doors, with in-built blinds, a feature also seen in the dining area. The bespoke kitchen, created using smoked ash faced plywood doors by the renowned joinery firm TinTab, incorporates beautiful porcelain surfaces and smoked oak units. Ash flooring runs throughout this floor.
Also on the ground floor is a study area, with built-in desk, a WC and utility room. Stairs lead up to a landing on the first floor which has spectacular countryside views. On this floor there is a family bathroom and four bedrooms, one of which is the master bathroom with an en suite shower room with a ‘hidden’ entrance via bespoke wardrobes.
The gardens surrounding the house are largely lawn, with areas of terrace to the side and rear. They are level and have been designed for easy maintainence.
Gresford Architects are a young, upcoming architectural practice with offices in London and Oxford that are gathering widespread acclaim for their work on sustainable residential schemes. This house, based on the forms of a traditional barn, uses black-stained douglas fir cladding and a zinc roof (which has been wired for solar panels) with concealed gutters.
Passivhaus is an energy performance standard, established in Germany but now used internationally, that has become the most respected measure of sustainable building across the world. In order to certify as a Passivhaus, the building needs to have excellent thermal performance, exceptional airtightness and be designed to maximise solar gain. The Chieveley house, which has MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery) unit, is expected to have very low energy bills as a result of Gresford’s work on energy efficiency. The building will come with a 10 year warranty via BLP.
Chieveley is a thriving Berkshire village with a shop / post office, church, primary school, pub and restaurant (The Crab). It is just five miles for the larger town of Newbury which provides a broader range of facilities including a train station that runs services to London Paddington in 55 minutes. There are a number of good schools in the area as well the school in Chieveley, including Cheam, Elstree, Downe House, Brockhurst and Marlston House.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
The below text is an assessment of the property by its architect, Tom Gresford:
“ This is a certified ‘Passivhaus’ on the edge of the village of Chieveley in West Berkshire.
It has been conceived as a modern interpretation of the timber-framed barns of the area, which when seen from the distance reads as a simple, traditional, agricultural building. On closer inspection it reveals itself as a crisply designed, contemporary interpretation of the historic buildings it draws inspiration from.
The orientation of the timber framed and clad house has been geared towards the delightful views over open countryside to the west. The house sits away from all boundaries, so it can be walked around, and is positioned towards the western edge of the site to take full advantage of the views.
Fenestration is carefully arranged on the west elevation to take advantage of the views, whereas the east and north elevations have small windows to reduce heat loss and to avoid overlooking adjacent houses. The garden to the west is raised by 400mm above internal floor level to allow full views of the landscape while eating and sitting outside.
The southern elevation has large windows at ground floor level, opening onto a large paved terrace area. At first floor level, randomly placed small windows offset the formality of the facade, and are inspired by the vernacular openings in dovecotes. The windows are set at high level to avoid overlooking neighbours, and the sunlight through them creates playful patterns in the two children’s bedrooms.
The front door is set deep into the middle of the east elevation to provide shelter while searching for keys or taking off muddy boots. The tight entrance porch area is deliberately enclosed to accentuate the sense of release when stepping into the 8m high entrance hall which acts as the focus of the house,
The arrangement of the ground floor rooms hangs off two key axes that run longitudinally through the plan, perpendicular to the entrance axis, and parallel to the all-important westerly views. The distinct spatial separation of the key living areas is countered by these two axes, and the lack of doors on the ground floor (there are only two – into the utility room and WC), accentuates the importance of the internal vistas through the house.
The four bedrooms have distinct characters and all but the guest room (which has an attic with storage and plant above it) take advantage of the roof form by opening up to the internal apex of the roof to create a feeling of space in a relatively tight floor plan.
The two bathrooms, placed on the east side of the building, where the requirement for small windows fits with the principle of reducing easterly glazing to prevent heat loss, also open up into the roof pitch.
Construction began in March 2015 and the project was completed in October 2015.”
Technical project data
Space heating demand: 13.8 kWh/(m2a)
Heat load: 11 W/m2
Frequency of overheating: 4.7%
Primary Energy: 104 kWh/(m2a)
Airtightness: 0.58 ACH @ n50
Heat loss form factor: 3.29
Ground floor: 400mm KORE Floor EPS100 white insulation (EPS300 to perimeter) under 100mm reinforced concrete slab
Wall: 34mm Piveteaubois Pulso vertical timber cladding on battens and counter battens, Glidevale Protect TF200 breather membrane, 12mm Medite Vent MDF panel, 400mm twin timber stud with Springvale Ecobead Platinum insulation, Siga Majpell vapour control and airtight layer, 15mm OSB class 3 board, 45mm service cavity fulfilled with mineral wool insulation, 12.5mm plasterboard with 3mm skim coat finish
Roof: Rheinzink prePATINA graphite grey double standing seam onto 22mm plywood sheeting, 44mm battens fixed through to joists, Ampatop Protecta plus roof membrane, 500mm twin timber stud warm roof fulfilled with Springvale Ecobead Platinum insulation, Siga Majpell vapour control and airtight layer, 15mm OSB class 3 board, 45mm service cavity fulfilled with mineral wool insulation, 12.5mm plasterboard with 3mm skim coat finish
U-Values : Slab – 0.092 W/(mÇK), Wall – 0.085 W/(mÇK), Roof – 0.070 W/(mÇK)
Thermal Bridges: Nail plate to wall – Chi-Value = 0.00357 W/(mK) – 3.1% Total transmission heat losses, Nail plate to roof – Chi-Value = 0.00357 W/(mK) – 0.8% Total transmission heat losses, Perimeter wall/floor junction – Y = 0.030 W/(mK) – 1.0% Total transmission heat losses. Raft insulation downstand – Y = 0.070 W/(mK) – 0.8% Total transmission heat losses, SVP – Y = 0.185 W/(mK) – 1.0% Total transmission heat losses
Windows and doors: Ideal Combi Futura+i turn/tilt and fixed windows, Ideal Combi Futura+ sliding doors, Ideal Combi Nation doors
Average g-Value: 0.49
Average Ug-Value: 0.58 W/(mÇK)
Average Window U-Value : 1.00 W/(mÇK)
Heating: Worcester 12i LPG boiler supplying one radiator to each room and towel rail to each bathroom, 300L horizontal hot water cylinder
Ventilation: Paul Novus 300 MVHR heat recovery ventilation system – 88.7% Final effective heat recovery efficiency
Shading: Young Design Build Motorised external blinds providing 38% of reduction factor Z for temporary sun protection