Is it a Passivehouse or is it a treehouse? Yes!

treehouse in trees
via Millar + Howard Workshop

Millar and Howard Workshop wins Telegraph award for best Passive House, and it's built on stilts.

It is hard to take anything you read in the Daily Telegraph seriously, but their homebuilding awards are often nice. Considering that the paper is full of climate deniers and charlatans, it is surprising that they have a Passive House or Passivhaus category, considering that Passivhaus is all about reducing energy consumption and CO2 production. According to Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine, which has published the winners, "For over two decades, The Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards has sought out Britain’s very best self-build, extension and renovation projects." Perhaps they choose the buildings, not Christopher Booker.


Notwithstanding that contradiction, Architect Elrond Burell points us to the Dursley TreeHouse, a Passive House designed by the Millar + Howard Workshop, which won the 2017 Passivhaus award.

interior with dogMillar + Howard Workshop/via

It's what the British call a self-build; the owners, Jon Martin and Noreen Jaafar, found the overgrown, sloping site, and hired M+H because Passivhaus is hard; they also brought on Passivhaus consultants Greengauge, because as Brownwyn Barry notes, Passivhaus is a team sport. But they acted as their own General Contractors, which is also hard with Passivhaus as you really have to get the build quality right; it usually takes practice and always takes a lot of care. The architects are quoted in the local Gazette:

Tomas Millar, co-director of Millar and Howard Workshop, said: "It was a great project to be involved in. “Attaining Passivhaus certification was an achievement in itself, but for the design of the house within that to be recognised is brilliant. Passivhaus is an engineering standard and the fact that is so rigorously audited is its great strength. What is wonderful about the tree house is that it demonstrates what’s possible when adopting a broader, more balanced approach."

house in treesMillar + Howard Workshop/via

One thing that I really like is the fact that it is built on stilts, on a steel framework instead of on a traditional foundation. This means that the architect can wrap the same insulation that is used on the exterior and roof under the bottom, instead of sitting it in a big foam foundation. It sits more lightly on the land, and avoids all that plastic.

veranda around houseMillar + Howard Workshop/via

The design plays with the cantilevering of boxes that are elevated and offset between the protected trees on the site. The house also boasts a lightweight veranda that circulates around the home and projects into the tree canopy: an unusual treehouse escape hidden in the middle of a bustling town.

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