All posts from: April 2010
Our first visit to site this week made for positive viewing with some plots a hive of activity and, with a number of timber frames in place, the shape of the Expo community is vastly becoming reality. Those who managed to get out of the ground before or between the snow have managed to make some good progress.
There was still no concrete flowing on 11 but the large scale timber formwork for our rather tricky concrete footing and retaining wall detail was in place and awaiting better weather.
The last week has seen final discussions on timber frame prior to going into manufacture in Elgin by RTC and arrived on site at the end of March, although it looks as though the delays caused by bad weather may stretch that slightly. We are using RTCs Passivwall system that was specially created for building to PassivHaus standard and ours will be the 3rd scheme to use the system after Bethania in Dunoon and Midmar in Aberdeenshire. We’ve been working closely with Buro Happold and Alastair Rennie and his team at RTC to get the most out of the timber frame system and resolve some challenging structural issues like the corner cantilevers which will help form the distinctive architecture of the units. Our external walls will achieve a U-Value of 0.1 W/m2K and help us achieve an air tightness 10 times better than current building regs.
Finalising the timber frame manufacturing drawings have also allowed us to do a final check on window sizes and specifications and push through the Window order with Internorm in Rosyth, who are importing the window and door units from Internorm’s manufacturing base in Austria. With external windows and doors so critical to the PassivHaus strategy, it was important for us to use a tried and tested product that was also PassivHaus certified. The windows and external door units achieve a 0.71W/m2K U value. It is unfortunate that we couldn’t source anything with such a good U-Value or indeed PassivHaus certification any closer to home although we have talked with Internorm in Scotland about their plans to hopefully start manufacturing the same system using Scottish materials and Scottish Labour in the future. Windows could be 8-10 weeks so a bit of a risk to programme but isn’t that always the way on Grand Designs?!
The first and most obvious progress arriving on site is on plot 5 by JM being constructed by Robertson Highland where timber roof panels are being put in place and also at plot 4.2 by Andrew Black and William Gray where the timber frame and distinctive curved roof is being completed.
Since winning the RIAS competition in May 2007, nearly 30 architectural practices and design teams including ourselves at HLM Architects, have been working immensely hard with the Highland Housing Alliance to make the vision of Scotland’s Housing Expo a reality.
Somewhat against the tide of the recent financial climate and the freezing winter weather, work commenced on site a few weeks ago with a consortium of five local Highland contractors (O’Brien Properties, Robertson Highland, Morrison Construction, William Gray and Tulloch Express) and James McQueen Builders of Skye. Over the next few months, we will be posting regular blogs on the construction progress of the expo project as it advances towards its official opening just five months away in August this year.
The construction of our own three units began on site with O’Brien Properties amid the latest snow blizzards to hit the Inverness area. Whilst the site has been levelled and set out, the holes in the ground have seen more snow than concrete due to the sub-zero temperatures, but then the weather gave us some welcome relief and in turn some more substantial progress.
When complete later this year, our three units will become only the second certified PassivHaus scheme in Scotland and still one of the first few in the UK. Our homes aim to use at least 80% less energy for space heating than the average UK house and will aim to demonstrate the benefits and appropriateness of the PassivHaus concept in the Scottish and UK climate.
Our scheme is one of over 50 homes on the site set within an innovative masterplan by Caddell2, which collectively hopes to truly raise the bar for Scottish and UK housing. We hope that over the next few months we can illustrate the progress of some of these schemes moving towards the public event in August 2010 and more importantly towards the legacy of the expo community beyond.