Simple, smart architecture for our new office


Guyhirn, Wisbech

Date of completion:

A contemporary interpretation of a barn development, that evokes the agricultural history of Guyhirn, a village in Wisbech.


A truly outstanding architectural Passivhaus design, for an office that surpasses sustainability, promoting both ethical and “Good Design” elements to enhance the intrinsic character of the area. Our aim is to create buildings and spaces that interact with society and contribute to the wider community.


In the case of this Passivhaus project our intention was to be the first Passivhaus office in the Fenland’s, thus demonstrating our commitment to delivering ultra-low energy buildings. We wanted to essentially “walk the walk” by adding a Passivhaus office to the impressive Passivhaus portfolio that we already have under our belt.


 Our expert team of designers created an office that perfectly balances sleek design elements and carbon neutrality:

  • Barn style newbuild Passivhaus certified 2 storey office, with the appearance of horizontal and vertical cladding. 

  • Exposed ductwork, designed with a spiral wound steel, the overall finish achieved both robustness and modern appearance, complementing the office design.    

  • Orientating the building to a position that allows maximum daylight and solar gains. 

  • Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR): A PAUL Novus 450 MVHR system, designed, supplied and commissioned by Green Building Store. 

  • Windows and Doors U-value as low as 0.68 W/m2K: Green Building Store’s PROGRESSION windows and doors were chosen for the project. 

The spaces within the office were designed to offer an inclusive flexible working environment, with the capability of working on both the ground and first floor.

The full story

From the outset, our intention was to be sympathetic to the agricultural history of the area and to create a contemporary interpretation of a barn development, with the ethos of environmentally responsible development and sustainability at its core, whilst adhering to the Government and Local Policy. We approached this by taking photos of the barns and numerous buildings in the area to use as the initial inspiration. 

As such we wanted the architectural style to be simple in its forms with the traditional rectangular nature of the agricultural building being pushed and pulled to create openings, recesses and overhangs – this combined with the use of horizontal and vertical cladding resulted in an efficient contemporary interpretation of a historical building’s form.

Creating an eco-friendly, low energy office with good design in Guyhirn, Wisbech

Green Building Store’s PROGRESSION windows and doors were specified for the project along with their MVHR design service. Ultimately, we knew that we wanted to finish off the Passivhaus design with further products that would complete our desire for an eco-friendly, low energy office. 

James Burton, Architect & Director at Swann Edwards Architecture commented:

“We’ve had no problems with the PROGRESSION windows and doors at all. They look really, really good. They’re helping make the office very comfortable and we’ve even experienced them frosting up on the outside! By early December, we still had not put the heating on in the office.”

It was also important the project enhanced the biodiversity of the site, which was achieved through its landscaping scheme.

The end result was an evolving architecture informed by its site, context, climatic conditions and locally available materials.

The 5-stage approach: demonstrating the difference sustainable building design can make 

We used a sustainable design strategy to achieve a low carbon plan. This is a hierarchical five-stage approach to design, which rigorously tests each design decision against proven techniques to ensure the potential to achieve the overall aim of carbon neutrality is maximised.

The proposal recognised the impact of the construction industry and dwelling emissions on the environment, for which a Passivhaus design constructively helps with its ethos of carbon neutrality. Passivhaus buildings achieve a significant reduction in space heating requirements while maximising occupant comfort compared to standard practice for UK new build.

By using the 5- stage approach the ‘Passive’ and ‘Active’ design strategies mean the office meets the criteria of the Passivhaus standard:  

  • a maximum space heating and cooling demand of less than 15 kWh/m2.year or a maximum heating and cooling load of 10W/m2 

  • a maximum total primary energy demand of 120 kWh/m2/year 

  • an air change rate of no more than 0.6 air changes per hour @ 50 Pa 

Finally, our design means that maintenance will not be needed for another 50 years. therefore, we’re extremely happy to have reduced the building’s operational energy and CO2. The outcome of this project is an exceptional example of how a Passivhaus design can be tailored to fit the local area and champion low energy for a sustainable future.

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