Broadstone Quarry House by A Zero with Schucho windows and doors. Photo: Michael Franke

Maximising light and space in a Passivhaus

Inside a Paragraph 80 eco-home built partially below ground in an old quarry

Promotional Feature By Lorraine Crighton-Smith | 4 April 2022

Building an eco-home in the pit of a disused stone quarry was no mean feat. Nestled between mature forest and open fields, Quarry House required exceptional sensitivity to the surrounding environment and had to adhere to strict Passivhaus standards of energy efficiency.

As the self-build house is partially below ground, it was imperative to maximise natural light without losing heat. At its core, a central double-height atrium space is flanked by a series of private and semi-private spaces at two levels – each with its own view to the outside.

double-height atrium in a house built to passivhaus standards

Photo: Michael Franke

A Paragraph 80 self-build

The project was granted permission under Paragraph 79 (now Paragraph 80) of the National Planning Policy Framework, which allows new homes on rural sites – if the designs are ‘truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas’.

A-Zero Architects teamed local materials, stone from the quarry and timber from the forest, with Passivhaus aluminium-framed windows and doors from Schüco, to achieve the ideal blend of aesthetics and performance.

Passivhaus windows and doors in a Paragraph 80 new-build property in a disused quarry

Photo: Michael Franke

Passivhaus windows and doors

Schüco has developed a range of Passivhaus Institute-certified high-performance windows, doors and façades. These feature a thermally broken aluminium alloy frame to ensure performance and functionality go hand-in-hand with sleek, elegant aesthetics. As with all Schüco doors, windows and façades, the frames can accommodate either double or triple glazed units.

‘Energy efficiency and thermal insulation are playing an increasingly important role in the design and construction of new building and renovation projects,’ says Giles Bruce, Director at A-Zero Architects. ‘We specified these aluminium products from the Schüco SI (Super Insulation) or HI (High Insulation) ranges over other systems as they are able to handle the many complex conditions that this project required, while meeting the performance and aesthetic requirements.’

Building an eco-home in the pit of a disused stone quarry was no mean feat. Nestled between mature forest and open fields, Quarry House required exceptional sensitivity to the surrounding environment and had to adhere to strict Passivhaus standards of energy efficiency.

As the self-build house is partially below ground, it was imperative to maximise natural light without losing heat. At its core, a central double-height atrium space is flanked by a series of private and semi-private spaces at two levels – each with its own view to the outside.

double-height atrium in a house built to passivhaus standards

Photo: Michael Franke

A Paragraph 80 self-build

The project was granted permission under Paragraph 79 (now Paragraph 80) of the National Planning Policy Framework, which allows new homes on rural sites – if the designs are ‘truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas’.

A-Zero Architects teamed local materials, stone from the quarry and timber from the forest, with Passivhaus aluminium-framed windows and doors from Schüco, to achieve the ideal blend of aesthetics and performance.

Passivhaus windows and doors in a Paragraph 80 new-build property in a disused quarry

Photo: Michael Franke

Passivhaus windows and doors

Schüco has developed a range of Passivhaus Institute-certified high-performance windows, doors and façades. These feature a thermally broken aluminium alloy frame to ensure performance and functionality go hand-in-hand with sleek, elegant aesthetics. As with all Schüco doors, windows and façades, the frames can accommodate either double or triple glazed units.

‘Energy efficiency and thermal insulation are playing an increasingly important role in the design and construction of new building and renovation projects,’ says Giles Bruce, Director at A-Zero Architects. ‘We specified these aluminium products from the Schüco SI (Super Insulation) or HI (High Insulation) ranges over other systems as they are able to handle the many complex conditions that this project required, while meeting the performance and aesthetic requirements.’

Image: Michael Franke

Thermally efficient and stylish

The range of Schüco Passivhaus windows, doors and facades used in this project work together to create a home that is designed with the objective of setting a low-energy standard.

‘To ensure that the large sliding doors that feature in this project were going to be as thermally efficient as they were stylish, ASE 80 HI from Schüco was the best option,’ says Hershika Kerai, Business Manager at Aumaxum Architectural Glazing, the fabricator for the project.

‘The client wanted the doors to be extremely tall, but the architect had to ensure the doors were of a height that had been thermally tested. The client visited our showroom and was immediately sold upon seeing the door.’

inside a energy-efficient new-build with double-height atrium and mezzanine

Photo: Michael Franke

High levels of insulation

As the house is designed to Passivhaus standards, the energy required to keep it comfortable through the year does not exceed 15 kWh/m2. To put this into context, a standard Victorian house would use over 200 kWh/m2.

The architects achieved the low space-heating demand through high levels of insulation. ‘The Schüco systems minimise heat loss in winter and solar gains in summer,’ says Giles. Infiltration is minimised using a Pro Clima Intello Plus Vapour Check Membrane, and fresh air is provided mechanically, with all heat recovered from out-going air.’

So if you’re considering building a home to Passivhaus standards consider Schüco aluminium windows and doors. The high-insulation Schüco sliding and lift-and-slide system provide elegant design solutions for sustainable, user-oriented architecture to passive house level.

For more on Schüco aluminium windows and doors, see schueco.com/view

hallway with concrete and timber staircase in a passivhaus self build

Photo: Michael Franke


What is Passivhaus standard?

The Passivhaus standard for low-energy buildings is an increasingly popular method for UK buildings, focusing on a ‘fabric first’ principle of constructing a building with a highly insulated and airtight envelope in order to reduce space heating demand to a very low level.

These are the key criteria that a Passivhaus scheme must meet:

  • The building must be airtight with less than 0.6 air changes per hour at a pressure of 50Pa
  • Space heating demand must not exceed 15kWh/m2/yr
  • Exterior walls must have a U-value less than 0.15 W/m2K
  • The windows must be super-insulated with a U-value less than 0.8 W/m2K, which generally means they must be triple glazed, with a g-value of 50% to capture heat from the sun
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