Perhaps the most entertaining presentation at the 21st International Passivhaus conference in Vienna was the one by Paul McNally, a young architect from Cork, Ireland who describes the work of his firm, the Passivhaus Architecture Company, as “zero-carbon architecture for business, commerce and places of work”, none of which are houses, which is again why Passive House is such a terrible translation.
Quirke’s Pharmacy has been operating in Clonmel, Tipperary, since 1927 in a 19th century building that suffered from poor layout and low ceilings. Paul designed a new building that had to fit in with the texture of the historic neighbourhood (even though the building next door is an ugly 1960s building that certainly doesn’t fit in). He had to deal with the added complication that the existing building was supporting the others on either side, so he had to first insert a thermally broken steel frame to hold them up. Then the new concrete block cavity wall was built around it.
Much of the interior is built of wood which had to be imported because as Paul noted, “the English stole all our trees”.
One of the benefits of Passivhaus design is that it is comfortable and has great air quality. Staff at the pharmacy wrote:
No. 53 is such a pleasure to work in. Our tiredness levels after a busy day are reduced, perhaps due to the fairness of the new pharmacy or the lack of fluorescent lights… It is the use of all the wood that gives the pharmacy that natural feel. It has become a very pleasant environment to work in. We are thrilled with it. The feeling of lightness, natural brightness, airiness.
Nice work by Paul McNally, shown here presenting his project.