Since our Earth is becoming more and more fragile, it is only fitting that we take the time to reflect and re-evaluate our carbon footprint. In recent years, it has become a trend, albeit even fashionable, to be more environmentally aware. The government has launched numerous campaigns to try and make everyday individuals more aware of their impact by making simple, daily changes like turning off electrical appliances by the switch or taking shorter showers. These small changes, contrary to the belief of some sceptics, without a doubt have a positive impact in the long run. In terms of passive housing, the idea is that we can still live comfortably without having to sacrifice our creature comforts, yet are mindful of our energy consumption, climate change, and most of all, of the environment around us.
Before we look at the incredible Maryville Passive House by Joseph Thurrott Architects, let's take a moment to educate ourselves on what constitutes a
passive house and how it is different from a sustainable or environmentally friendly home, which has become a buzzword in the past decade. A passive home uses around 10% of the energy of the standard European home, and must meet the following requirements:
- Needs little, or no artificial heating or cooling systems,
- The heating and/or cooling load cannot exceed 10 W/m2,
- Maximum energy use of 120 kWh/(m²a) and,
- Tested for airtightness—with little or no air leakage.
Now that you have the numbers and facts behind you, let's start our tour of the Maryville Passive House.
Located in Gartocharn, Scotland, the Maryville Passive House is reminiscent of the typical style of Scottish houses in this area. With this vernacular in mind, a contemporary building was formed, employing the very best sustainable principles, and of course, earning the title of a passive house. Upon first glance, the home looks like a modern interpretation of a traditional barn, yet with some interesting, stand-out features. Pictured is the Southern Elevation, which is why the solar panels have been mounted to the pitched roof, and the majority of the windows have been orientated towards this direction. This is to ensure maximum solar absorption.
In contrast to the front façade, which was largely clad in timber, the rear is a juxtaposition of white render. There are however, still hints of timber cladding from this angle to retain a dialogue between the front and back of the home. The external envelope is constructed from an energy efficient thermal barrier, which acts as a powerful insulating wrap of the house. The cavity in the roof has been attended to, with the roof trusses also being filled with insulation. Finished in zinc, the grey roofing system is a spectacular finishing touch to the variations in external finishes.
The windows in most homes are single or double glazed, but the glazing systems installed inside the Maryville Passive house are in fact triple glazed, with the cavity of these windows filled with argon/krypton gas. As a consequence of the orientation and glazing system, this double-height living room is wonderfully ventilated and positively luminous. Even from the inside, you can see the interjection of the outside envelope via the hint of the timber and stark white wall finish. The largely glass wall lets nature inside; the perfect notion for those that recognise the importance of taking care of the environment around them.
As mentioned earlier, a passive home doesn't mean we are required to give up all the things we love about modern life. This open plan kitchen and dining area looks contemporary and fresh, and is fitted with everything that a food connoisseur or microwave specialist might need. From this room, too, we get a sense of the natural light that floods the space via the long shadows to the left. Just imagine enjoying your morning breakfast, or sipping a glass of wine in the evening as the sun rises or sets. A truly magical experience.
The geometry of this image is stunning, with the light from the ground floor and the angles of stairs cleverly playing off against one another. It's almost as though the living spaces below are calling you down from your slumber in the morning to take advantage of the view. The continuation of timber and white wall finishes is evident here too, with large windows filling an often dark area of our homes with light. From this picture, the simplicity is the hero of the design.
Lastly, we are treated with a view from the south facing bedroom. Overlooking the garden, the large horizontal window makes this space a pleasure to wake up in. The most interesting element of this room is the visible pitch of the roof, which really reminds us that this home was modelled on the traditional Scottish barn style. To make this fairly minimalist room a little more cosy, plush textures have been employed to give it an added touch of warmth.
In conclusion, it comes as no surprise that the Maryville passive house was one of the finalists in the Scottish home awards for 2013. To see more bold examples of passive and eco-architecture in the UK, see the following ideabooks: