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PROJECT REPORT: SOCIAL & AFFORDABLE HOUSING


cladding product which had a more defined lifespan on it, and we typically as a practice use more natural, ‘hairier’ type timber cladding products, such as douglas fir, larch or cedar.”


What the practice eventually found was a thermally modified timber cladding. Uncommon in this particular context, it’s a UK-grown hardwood – poplar. While not typically used in construction, the thermal modification process makes it more durable, and as such, suitable for this type of use.


“Ultimately,” says Neep, “what we were able to do was deliver a timber cladding which was much crisper in its detailing, more robust, and less susceptible to movements and mould growth.” That addressed a lot of the concerns that the client had, as well as a lot of the concerns that were raised during the consultation period. “There are some examples nearby where timber cladding has been done badly – so this was an opportunity to provide a more robust, stable, and attractive product, as well as being UK grown,” he adds.


The interiors of the buildings were left largely down to the Shropshire Housing Group and their standard specifications. With many of their maintenance items already being in stock, there was little want for any major differentiation from their typical interiors.


It was important however that the buildings be easily maintainable, so the architects went through “quite an involved” process with their maintenance and repair teams to look at how to make that as straightforward as possible for them.


The architect adds: “I think the internal environments created by Passivhaus, with the fresh air, daylight from windows, and the good levels of ventilation, in themselves made it an incredibly comfortable place for residents, regardless of specification.”


Reflections & reactions The project has gone down well so far – especially with the town council and the neighbourhood planning department. “I’ve spoken to the local councillor and other members of the council, and they’re all incredibly keen for further phases to take place,” says the architect. “It’s looking absolutely stunning; everything is weathering, the timber’s looking great now, and the landscape has just made everything settle in.”


At an event the project team hosted ADF SEPTEMBER 2019


recently to unveil the Passivhaus plaque, the architects were also able to meet some of the scheme’s residents. “I had a chat with some of them, and the stories we are hearing back about how little heating that’s been required has been absolutely fantastic,” says Neep.


“I heard one of the residents say that they only switched their heating on for a couple of days last year, and even then only for the early mornings to heat up the bathroom on the building’s north side.” Besides the anecdotal evidence, the team are just about to get the first year’s worth of monitoring data and post-occupancy studies, which will be analysed to find out just how everything is doing – though it seems clear from the residents that everything is performing as it should. Neep concluded: “It’s been a great


project to be involved with. We’re already working with a few other local authorities and social housing providers across the country, so there certainly seems to be a lot of interest in the project – we hope we can be involved in a few more.” 


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