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Blog: Project of the Year under £10m SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - Max Fordham House

03 May 2019

sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Max Fordham House - submitted by bere:architects

Max Fordham House is a pathfinder project that demonstrates how a skilled and motivated workforce can produce high-quality, beautifully-crafted buildings. Max Fordham House demonstrated technical performance, collaborative delivery, and construction quality.

This is an ultra-low energy, all-electric, contemporary home and one of the most advanced high-performance houses in the UK. It builds on physicist and environmental engineer Max Fordham’s life’s work in sustainable construction. The balanced ‘building metabolism’ approach combines Passive House with carefully-sized glazing and innovative insulated shutters in order to harness internal gains to compensate for heat losses to create a near-zero-heating home.

Max Fordham House’s fabric-first, Passive House approach results in a building that is comfortable and healthy year-round but requires only a tiny fraction of the energy required by a similar sized home built to the minimum requirements of UK Building Regulations (for all uses including heating).

Collaborative success

The project demonstrates the benefits of investing in skills and how respectful, collaborative working between people with aligned objectives creates a positive working environment and the best possible result for clients. It brings together client Max Fordham’s knowledge and design philosophy, bere:architects’ synthesis of architectural design performance, Max Fordham LLP’s services design experience, and is testament to Bow Tie Construction’s investment in skills. It demonstrates how good team processes, information sharing tools, and cooperative team culture can deliver for clients and for the environment.

Early outcome meetings with all design and construction team members and collaborative pre-contract value engineering and buildability reviews ensured sustainability objectives were supported across the team and were deliverable on budget. A very detailed set of construction drawings, 3D BIM model, and bills of quantities helped the contractor order ‘just-enough’ as well as ‘just-in-time’, reducing management time and site waste and easing pressure for material storage on the tight site.

A collaborative manner to running the contract and ‘no blame’ culture enabled queries or unexpected site discoveries to be resolved smoothly and without delay and ensured issues were discussed and learnt from. This was assisted by the use of a cloud-based construction site management platform – an unusual innovation on a project of this size – enabling instant sharing and instructing of drawings, site photographs, and cost information, building trust and streamlining the process of agreeing variations.

Even with the range of challenges (including the ambitious brief, developing a completely new shutter product, and the logistics of a tight site) the project completed within a few hundred pounds of the budget – a remarkable achievement on such a ground-breaking building and challenging site.

By demonstrating and prototyping (including monitoring and sharing learning) and streamlining the delivery of low-energy homes, we hope to make the sustainable construction sector more scalable and more profitable. If this became the norm for UK homes, the environmental, social (e.g. reducing fuel poverty), and health benefits would be enormous; in addition to major benefits to the UK economy and significant numbers of attractive new ‘green’ jobs.


Highlights:

  • Max Fordham House is one of the most advanced high-performance houses in the UK, building on renowned physicist and environmental engineer Max Fordham’s life’s work in sustainable construction.  
  • In terms of construction process, it is a pathfinder project that demonstrates how a super-skilled and proud, motivated, workforce can produce exceptionally high-quality, beautifully crafted buildings. Max Fordham House is exemplary in technical performance, the collaborative way it was delivered, and its construction quality.
  • The project demonstrates the benefits of investing in skills and how respectful, collaborative working between skilled people with aligned objectives creates a really positive working environment and the best possible result for clients.

For more details:

Visit bere:architects.

The SECBE 2019 Building Project of the Year under £10m Award is sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

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