West Cork Passive House

West Cork Passive House

Architectural Services & Passive House Design – Wain Morehead Architects Ltd
Project Type – Detached Two-Storey Dwelling 
Contractor – CHOM Construction Ltd


Airtightness Achieved – 0.59 ACH at 50 Pa

Photography – Gabrielle Morehead 

Date – 2016

Ecological Products Used:

Cross Section Detail


Energy efficient design has always been the cornerstone and overall philosophy of Wain Morehead Architects Ltd. Implemented throughout their work regardless of building type.

Ecological Building Systems are delighted to have been associated and provide technical input to numerous award-winning projects designed by Wain Morehead over the years including this stunning West Cork Passivhaus. Wain Morehead architects have not only designed some of Irelands most energy efficient buildings but have also provided groundbreaking research regarding the influence of climate variation in Ireland on the performance of Passivhaus and low energy buildings. 


West Cork has become synonymous over the years for natural beauty and tourist hotspots such as Lough Hyne-Skibbereen, Mizen Head and indeed Cape Clear Ireland’s most southerly Island.  This stunning west cork Passive House designed by Wain Morehead Architects certainly fits the mould in terms of elegant design, spectacular views and distinctly modern appearance.  The large glazed windows offer panoramic views of Roaring Water Bay.  The timber joinery used throughout the project is exemplary which compliments both the traditional natural stonework and modern wall to ceiling glazed windows  

Not only is this west cork passive house easy on the eye it also performs remarkably well. This two-Storey four-bedroom home achieved an impressive airtightness result of 0.59 ACH at 50 Pa, considering to comply with current building regulations homeowners must achieve an airtightness result of 5m3/(h.m2) 


Built on an insulated GGBS concrete raft foundation, the ground floor construction is predominantly blockwork ETICS (external thermally insulated composite system) construction.  The first floor consists of closed wall timber frame diaphragm construction, with rendered cement board or larch cladding rain screen.  Triple glazed alu clad timber windows are integrated throughout, with the Passive House Certified sliding glass walls by Optiwin, Austria.

All steel structural columns used in the project are contained within the thermal envelope to minimise thermal bridging.  The use of timber frame construction allows for large overhangs and openings which contribute to solar shading.  The Parallam beams allow for reduced thermal bridges where they penetrate the thermal envelope. 

The roof itself is constructed from Timber TJI (truss joists) and Parallam elements.  Rainwater from the roof is gathered in the pond which dynamically reflects light deep into the building throughout the day

Careful detailing and use of materials in the project allowed for thermal bridge free design that satisfies performance criteria required without compromising the architectural intent.

On the upper floor, the living area opens out onto a sheltered terrace.  The use of site-quarried stone and opportunity to have external access from the upper floor introduced an interesting dynamic to how the property and the gardens can be enjoyed.  The building was conceived as a series of folding plates straddling the rock outcrop, which integrated large overhangs to address solar shading requirements.

Inside, on the ground floor, which is south and west facing, the spaces are big and bright with floor to ceiling windows and spectacular views over the bay.  The living room, dining room and kitchen are all open plan, with the staircases acting as a central element dividing and defining the spaces.

Ecological Products Used

To optimise not only airtightness but the ability for the timber elements in the roof to breath, INTELLO PLUS Intelligent vapour check was specified.  GUTEX ULTRATHERM was utilised on the outside of the timber frame, clad walls. This provided high levels of windtightness, weathertightness and breathability.

Gutex Multitherm was used below the first floor screed providing both acoustic and thermal performance.

The building not only features beautiful aesthetics but also attained an outstanding A1 energy rating but is also Passivhaus certified. No doubt the client’s expectations have been exceeded. 

We look forward to working with John and his team on many groundbreaking retrofits and new build low energy ecological project over the coming years

For more information regarding any of the products mentioned above, please do not hesitate to contact Ecological Building Systems at info@ecologicalbuildingsystems.com or call 046 -9432104

Ecological Building Systems also have a Centre of Knowledge in Athboy, Co. Meath.  Individuals are welcome to arrange an appointment and visit for a free technical consultation regarding new build projects or indeed a retrofit project.  In addition, we have a range of training courses which are available online www.ecologicalbuildingshop.ie

By Niall Crosson, Senior Engineer, MEng Sc, BTECH, MIEI, CEPHC

046 94 32104, niallcrosson@ecologicalbuildingsystems.com