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  • Bertie Dixon

Building Max's House

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

I'm pleased to learn today, via Justin Bere, of an award for a project I worked on while I was in my previous incarnation at Max Fordham LLP.

Its also recently been featured in the FT- be sure to read the comments too!

Image:Justin Bere Architects

The award is for the eponymous Max's own house. It is built to Passivhaus, and is located at the end of his garden. It was a honour to be involved in a project for the founder of the practice, and such a well regarded engineer.

Full credit for the MEP design goes to Ali Shaw, who corralled and developed Max's concepts into reality.

My role was advising on the Passivhaus assessment from the early stages. Max would often engage in long debates about low energy housing. He challenged the assessment method continuously- at one point we set up a conversation with Prof. Wolfgang Feist, himself the "high-priest" & founder of Passivhaus, to agree a point of interpretation.

In fact, Max thought that Passivhaus didn't go far enough- Max's intention was to design a zero-heating house.

When the tenders weren't going to plan, I suggested Max contact Bow Tie construction. Although at the time this scheme would have been on the larger end of Bow Tie's scope, I was confident that they had the skills, attitude and charm to pull off such demanding project. And pulled it off they have.

Here's an example of their initiative: The windows are fitted with automatic internal shutters to reduce heat loss. Bow Tie grasped a hold of the detail. They presented to the client a mock-up using Lego Technic controls and actuation. 'That's a great mock-up' the client replies, 'So what will you build the final version with?'

'This is the final version, we're using Lego!'

It is a robust and very cost effective solution. It has saved the client thousands with no loss of function.

Camden Mews has won a RIBA London Regional award, plus the judges special award for sustainability. Congratulations to Bere's and to everyone involved.

I get the feeling we'll be hearing about more awards for this project in the near future.

If you wish to see it for yourself, it will be open to visitors as part of Open House this autumn @openhouselondon

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