<span>Max</span><span>Fordham</span><span>House</span>

Max Fordham House

Max Fordham House

People, and the things they do, generate heat all the time. This should be enough to keep warm inside a home on a freezing, overcast day. Achieving this means that a building is sustainable. This is the first premise of the design of Max Fordham’s house.

Designed and built in collaboration with Max, bere:architects, Price & Myers and Bow Tie Construction, this three-bedroom Passivhaus home is an exemplar of collaboration, innovation and solution-focused design. Set in a tight, urban infill site, previously Max’s garden, the project shows what is possible and achievable as a technical concept for the housing sector.

“An important test bed project for a lifelong environmental innovator”
RIBA London Sustainability Award Winner 2019

The building’s thermal envelope, its ventilation system and its windows are designed so that the heat loss on a freezing cold winter’s day is no more than the heat generated by people living in the house.

The high performance thermal envelope completely wraps the building’s structure, eliminating thermal bridges. The envelope is also airtight, eliminating uncontrolled air exchange. The ventilation provision needed to provide healthy environments is then controlled and minimised mechanically, with heat recovery efficiency in excess of 90%.

As well as providing beautiful daylight, windows allow solar radiation to warm a house during the day. At night, a window typically loses ten times as much heat as a wall. On freezing overcast days, more heat is lost through a window at night than gained during the day. We have altered the behaviour of the windows so that they are net contributors to the building’s heat balance, even on a freezing, overcast day. Automated, insulated shutters allow the windows to become much more insulating at night so that the windows are thermally a net benefit every day. The windows and their positions are designed so that electrical lights are not needed during the day.

“With this stunning, award-winning passive house in Camden, the legendary engineer Max Fordham has produced a simple and beautiful urban home with no wet heating system, that draws on his lifetime of work applying the principles of simplicity, practicality and replicability to the design of building services.”
Passivhaus Plus Magazine

Domestic hot water is the house’s largest energy demand. Solar thermal technology was considered, but introduces the complication of an additional mechanical system and requires valuable roof space - the roof area is already maximised for photovoltaic electricity generation. A rooftop copse of hazel plants on the first floor level contributes to biodiversity.

Heatpump technology aligns well with the continuing decarbonisation of the national electricity grid. A 2-stage heatpump provides the high grade heat needed for domestic hot water quite efficiently year round. While some summertime efficiency may be sacrificed in the second compressor, this is compensated by the high wintertime efficiency and the lack of immersion heating needed. The heatpump’s air-side heat exchanger is located within a suntrap and is controlled so that 24hours worth of domestic hot water demand is produced during mid-afternoon, when air temperature is warmest and the heatpump most efficient. This is also when the roof PV array is likely to be at its most productive.

Other energy demands are small and contribute to the building’s metabolism, meeting the space heating demand.

“The sensory and mobility challenges that come with aging have been thoughtfully addressed with a fully accessible ground floor, quietly incorporating a plethora of adaptations for wheelchair users and featuring many other Lifetime Homes features.” 
RIBA London Award 2019

As the house is designed to not need any heating on the coldest day, it needs to be capable of getting rid of heat every other day. The thermally massive structure and windows that open widely help with this. The windows can also be slightly open with the shutters closed, and the shutters are glossy and reflective on their outer face.

Max Fordham House won the RIBA London Sustainability Award 2019, a RIBA London Award and is shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year 2019.

“The result is a fearless approach to finding solutions to the numerous complexities generated by an inquisitive approach to how we might live more symbiotically with our planet.”
RIBA London Sustainability Award Winner 2019

Architect

Bere Architects

Value

Undisclosed

Completion

2019

Client

Max Fordham

Tim Crocker Info
Max's new house is built behind the existing brick garden wall.
Tim Crocker Info
Windows are sized to avoid the need for artificial lighting during the day, but are no bigger. The horizontal window shutters are inspired by electric car windows, which are airtight at 80mph.
Tim Crocker Info
Artificial lighting is flexible and adjustable for the tasks at hand.
Tim Crocker Info
The house is passively solar heated during the day, while the thermally massive structure and the shutters help retain this heat throughout the night.
Tim Crocker Info
Vertical window shutters are a re-imagining of sash-window technology.
Tim Crocker Info
Windows open fully to reject heat during the summer, while wintertime fresh air is supplied silently and efficiently through 3D-printed jet nozzles.
Tim Crocker Info
The staircase draws air up through the building during the summer.
Tim Crocker Info
The outdoor patio is part of the rainwater attenuation strategy.
Max Fordham LLP Info
Environmental Design Principles (the full image with descriptions is available from the "Behind the Scenes" link at the bottom of this page)
bere:architects Info
Isometric of south shutter detail

Behind the scenes

More information about our process and innovations for this project.

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Image: Tim Crocker

Architect

Bere Architects

Value

Undisclosed

Completion

2019

Client

Max Fordham

2019 RIBA London Sustainability Award

2019 RIBA London Sustainability Award

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