Sleek is smart and smart is Passivhaus

Sleek is smart and smart is Passivhaus

Location: East London

Architect: Bernard Tulkens (Tectonics Architects)

Accredited Passivhaus Designer: Peter Rankin

Year: 2015

Ecological Products Used: 

pro clima DA

pro clima Tescon Vana Tape 

pro clima Tescon Profil 

Gutex Thermosafe Homogen

Gutex Ultratherm 



 “Quality of construction and simplicity of details were key to achieving the Passivhaus standard”  Bernard Tulkens

The Project

The contemporary sharp lines of the matt black zinc façade visible from the east London streets of Hackney gives you a glimpse of a house that is a little out of the ordinary but in truth belies the special home that lies within. 

The unassuming low profile of the building was brought around by planning stipulations requiring the house to be set half a storey down from street level.

Rather than hinder the design, however, Tulkens has managed to use and express the different structural elements to enhance the overall design and feel of the finished home.

The almost 100m² ultra-energy efficient building is organised with the entrance and bedrooms at the lower ground floor within the rugged structural in– situ reinforced concrete walls while the upper floor houses the open plan living space surrounded by clean bright pre- fabricated Cross Laminated Timber.

Team Involved 

It was Bernard Tulkens of London-based studio Tectonics architects working closely with Accredited Passivhaus Designer Peter Ranken who designed and project managed the entire build process for his most exacting client – himself. 


U-Values; Roof:           0.08W/m²K

Upper Walls:               0.10W/m²K

Lower Walls:               0.13W/m²K

Ground Floor:             0.09W/m²K

Airtightness:              0.29 ac/h @ 50 Pa

The Estimated Heating Bill is just £170 a year

Annual Heating Demand: 14Kwh/m²/yr

Materials & Process Adopted to Achieve These Figures

  • Once the 100mm CLT upper floor panels were erected and the high-performance windows installed the walls were then wrapped with a pro clima DA weather resistant airtight vapour check to eliminate any air leakage.
  • Having fully sealed the DA membrane and ensuring that the Passivhaus airtightness benchmark of 0.6 ac/h @50pa was met and surpassed the walls were then clad in three layers of woodfibre insulation, a 140 & 120mm of Gutex Thermosafe Homogen and finished with a 60mm weather resistant
  • Gutex Ultratherm board Giving an overall wall U-value of 0.1W/m2K. In order to fix the woodfibre insulation back to the structure, some very substantial screws were needed.
  • Ecological’s Senior Technical Engineer Niall Crosson calculated the appropriate type and number of fixings required. HECO Topix screws with a length of 500mm were used to fix the 320mm of woodfibre back to the CLT structure.
  • This home is yet another example of the growing number of UK mass timber constructions incorporating the use of external woodfibre insulation which is proof of an emerging highly efficient low carbon strategy at both domestic and large scale.  
  • One of the biggest advantages of such constructions is the significant saving in energy used to manufacture these products as well as the substantial carbon sequestration of the timber over the lifetime of the building dwarfing the embodied carbon and energy involved in production and transport of the renewable timber systems.
  • The house has become one of only five certified Passive Houses in London, Completed in the summer of 2015 the house gained Passivhaus certification soon after