Focus House in London by BERE Architects
Added to an end-of-terrace house in North London, Focus House is a delightful prefabricated eco-home for a family of five. Bere Architects, the firm behind the design, used PassivHaus principles to inform their process. The world’s leading energy efficiency standard, Passivhaus recognizes buildings that are so energy efficient all they need is a small electric heater. Focus House is a unique design that embodies the prefab principles of waste reduction and efficiency, and raises the bar on energy-efficient building design.
Made in Austria and then transported to London in kit form, the building is formed of KLH UK solid timber panels, clad in zinc paneling. Not only is timber a less carbon-intensive material than concrete, it was cheaper and quicker to construct, taking a week to build for a cost of £50,000. The timber also helps to stabilize the building’s temperature, further reducing energy requirements.
Incoming air is warmed using waste heat from the bathroom, and a solar heater provides half of the building’s hot water requirements. But despite great ambition, the building doesn’t quite achieve PassivHaus standards. Although windows use a heat recovery ventilation system, they didn’t meet the PassivHaus triple glazing requirements. Still, the energy efficiency of this home stands as an example for low-impact living.
Measuring only 2.8m wide at the front, it’s hard to believe five people can live comfortably in the space. But with a glance at the back of the Focus House, you’ll see it widens to a swinging 7m, as well as offering a delightful garden and outdoor seating space.
We’re not the only one that thinks Focus House is an outstanding design. Grand Designs Awards presented it with ‘Best Eco House’, and RIBA felt it worthy of its London Region Award.