Agar Grove Estate

The redevelopment of Agar Grove Estate sets a new standard for social housing. The first Passivhaus development of its kind in the UK, it has meaningfully tackled fuel poverty by reducing residents' fuel bills by 70% and has influenced changes to the London Plan in relation to district heat networks.

A modern multi-story building with a central outdoor space

Key information


Hawkins Brown / Mae / Architype


Camden Council



Year of Completion

2018 (Phase 1a) / 2021 (Phase 1b)



The scheme will produce 507 homes, 345 of which will be built to Passivhaus standard, and includes the retention and deep retrofit of the estate’s landmark Lulworth Tower. The design has been driven by Camden Council’s overarching vision to tackle fuel poverty and create low maintenance, robust housing that fosters community and resident wellbeing.

The project has been led by the community, with extensive consultation with residents of the estate. The phasing was based around a ‘single decant’ process to maintain the community spirit, allowing residents to stay on-site and move straight into their homes once complete.

At the time of the planning stage in 2013-2014, the widely held view was that all developments should connect to district heat networks with combined heat and power (CHP). We proposed that a Passivhaus development with communal heating would perform better than a non-Passivhaus development with district heating. Our research persuaded the Greater London Authority to grant planning permission for one of the first large-scale residential Passivhaus projects in the UK, and in 2018 the GLA announced adjustments to the London Plan, including a shift away from district heat networks with CHP systems.

A rendered image of an aerial view of cityscape with buildings and trees

© Forbes Massie

Phase 1a

Completed in 2018, Phase 1a consists of 38 socially rented Passivhaus homes. Dwellings are dual aspect, enabling cross ventilation for effective natural cooling. Deep, south-facing balconies block peak summer solar gains and large window openings allow purge ventilation.

Renewable energy is provided via a PV array, exemplary air tightness helps to reduce heat losses and improve thermal comfort, and comprehensive post-occupancy evaluation has helped improve residents' comfort and experience. An innovative communal MVHR ensures a continuous supply of fresh filtered air. 

Data has shown that internal temperatures rarely dropped below 21°C in winter and only went above 26°C during the peak summer months, while resident feedback showed that all residents felt the air quality in their apartments was good and general comfort was a huge improvement on their previous flats. 

Phase 1b and beyond

Phase 1b was completed in July 2021 and consists of 57 social and market-rate Passivhaus homes. Much of the MEP strategy from Phase 1a has been duplicated, with the Passivhaus ‘fabric first’ approach helping to achieve a high build quality. Individual MVHR units for each apartment provide fresh air and reduce heat loss, while solid materials, comprehensive insulation and robust detailing ensure good noise separation.

Phase 1c is currently under construction and will be all-electric, using an innovative ambient loop heat pump system.

“The regeneration of this estate is helping us to build hundreds of new environmentally sustainable homes which will benefit both current and future residents... We are proud to be delivering much needed new homes that meet the highest standards, which are green, modern and have enough space for our families to grow.” 

Michelle Christensen Camden Council
2023 RIBA Neave Brown Award for Housing Shortlist
2023 RIBA National Award
2020 CIBSE Building Performance Awards Residential Project of the Year
2019 New London Architecture - Sustainability Prize