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Building a Passivhaus – Part 1


House for a private client in Maudach, Germany.

This three bedroom family house, has been designed with a home office on the first floor with its own entrance. The client brief called for the office to be capable of being used as a separate flat over time to separately house the growing family.

PDS and Chambers Goodwin and Partners were asked to provide a low energy solution for the build.

The client played an active part in the design throughout taking part in choice of materials, construction solution and finishes.

Though a Passivhaus can be built with almost any material, the decision for our project was to use typical traditional materials for construction, concrete block walls, reinforced concrete floors and rendered elevations.

We shall follow the story of construction as the building emerges on the site, demonstrating the solutions applied in the design and construction of this Passivhaus and discuss the outcomes and low energy achievements.

Part 1 – Journey begins

The Site – The brown field site had to be cleared of all the debris and the ground was filled in with hardcore compacted, gravel sub-base and levelled with screed to lay the insulation.

The pink material is the thermal insulation of high strength and integrity. It is like a flat tray with raised edges over which the building will stand. The layers of it click together like Lego pieces. We will see this in the next photo.

Insulation is similar to our jackets and is the solution to keep the floor slab warm.
Note the insulation edges – designed with up-stand on the inside for the floor slab thickness.

Can you see all the service inlets coming through the insulation?

The insulation in the first photo has been laid in two layers, note the interlocking surface designed like the Lego pieces. The vertical and horizontal joints of the insulation are staggered for air-tightness and stability.

The grey patch where the man is seated is the prepared sub-base over which the insulation is laid.

The black coloured duct is the fresh air inlet and the grey line to the left hand side is the cable for power/electricity.

The up-stand of the insulation doubles up as framework, insulates the edges of the slab and the base for the vertical insulation to the walls. All reinforcement and the starter bars for the columns are in position. All the service ducts are installed through the insulation.

All is ready – pour the concrete! Level the concrete slab within the insulation edge former.

So what happens next?

Watch out for Part 2…

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