This blog post is a review of “Hyperlocalization of Architecture: Contemporary Sustainable Archetypes” published in 2015. This book is written by Andrew Michler and published by eVolo.

You may know of Andrew Michler from his writing on Inhabitat, prior to that, he was a builder. He is a certified Passivhaus Consultant and has designed and built his own foam-free off-grid Passivhaus home in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The book starts with two bold (but accurate, I would argue) assertions about modern architecture;

A majority of buildings have failed on the most basic level of interacting with the place and people they aspire to serve.

and

The principle of modern design was severed from the realities of a building as an environmental intervention by relying on technology to overcome conditions rather than adapt to them.

From this starting point, “Hyperlocalization of Architecture: Contemporary Sustainable Archetypes” launches into a global journey to seek out contemporary vernacular architecture. In other words, buildings that embody an attitude of hyperlocalization. Buildings that stand in direct contrast to the asserted failings of modern architecture.

The book is a joyous and lavishly illustrated romp from the US to Australia with stop -offs along the way in Japan, Germany, Denmark, Spain and Mexico. As you might expect, the stop-off in Germany focusses on a stunning example of Passivhaus architecture.

Each location has an essay by Andrew Michler followed by a selection of building profiles. Each building is documented with multiple superb colour photographs, the majority of which are by Andrew Michler. Sometimes there are also drawings and diagrams, and in all cases, there is a written narrative by the architect.

Hyperlocalization of Architecture: Contemporary Sustainable Archetypes” is a beautiful written and visual source guide for contemporary vernacular architecture across the globe.

The Place of Passivhaus in Contemporary Vernacular Architecture

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Design and build procurement routes have been particularly popular in the UK for large scale Passivhaus projects. Clients, often public bodies, want the benefits that Passivhaus brings, but are wary of the delivery risks in a relatively immature Passivhaus market. Using a design and build procurement route allows the client to pass the majority of the risks to the contractor. The client may pay a higher price for this, but theoretically, it offers more certainty of cost and time.

However, using a design and build procurement route can offer the greatest potential for an integrated design approach. And this is beneficial for a Passivhaus building project. When it is done right, the full design and construction teams can collaborate to develop a highly integrated solution. Unfortunately, when not done right, design and build procurement can conflict with an integrated design approach.

This blog post looks at three situations where design and build procurement can conflict with Passivhaus;

  1. Design scope mismatch
  2. Consultants timelines out of sync
  3. Tender design overconstrained

These situations can cause issues with any building project and may increase costs and delivery time. For a Passivhaus building project, these situations may additionally jeopardise achieving the standard.

Passivhaus design and build procurement: avoid situations that conflict with an integrated design approach.

Procurement Conflicts with Passivhaus

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Where is all the timber needed to construct more Passivhaus buildings going to come from?

This was a question (paraphrased) asked by a person at a recent presentation I gave about the international Passivhaus Standard. They were clearly under the impression that it was easier / better / necessary to use a timber frame construction system to build to the standard.

I shouldn’t have been surprised since I was presenting on behalf of Architype, where I work. Architype are leaders in designing Passivhaus buildings and timber buildings, so the majority of the Passivhaus buildings I presented were timber construction.

It is a common misconception that timber is best for Passivhaus construction.

Ironically, there is also a misconception that ‘natural materials’ are not suitable for Passivhaus, therefore ruling out the use of timber.

Neither is true!

The international Passivhaus Standard is a performance standard: many different construction systems are possible.

041 Passivhaus Construction Not Just Timber
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This is a Passivhaus Basics blog post that gives an overview of a specific aspect of the Passivhaus Standard.

The Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) is one of the most powerful design tools available for designing low energy buildings. It can seem intimidating as an extensive programme of interlinked worksheets, typically used in Micorsoft Excel. However, when viewed worksheet by worksheet is it apparent how straightforward it is.

It is a necessary part of Passivhaus design, both for Passivhaus Designers and Consultants and for Passivhaus Building Certifiers. For designers, it is a useful tool at all stages as detail is gradually built up. And it provides a large degree of the all-critical quality assurance of the international Passivhaus Standard. And finally it is the tool used for certification of a Passivhaus Building.

At it’s most basic, the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) is a collection of clearly defined building physics algorithms. When the required information is entered, accurate reliable results are produced. And it continues to be developed as the Passivhaus Standard evolves and the world transitions towards a renewable energy future. (No matter how slow that transition might seem to be going currently!)

The Passive House Planning Package (PHPP): design tool, quality assurance tool and certification tool + all the essential building physics a low energy building needs.

040 What is the Passive House Planning Package PHPP?

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This blog post is a review of “Hermann Kaufmann IZM: Illwerke Zentrum Montafon” published in April 2015, edited by Marko Sauer.

This is a beautiful book about a beautiful building. The IZM is a new 120m long, five-storey office building in the Montafon valley of the Vorarlberg region in Austria. It brings together, in a central location, both the civil and electrical engineers of the hydropower generation company, Illwerke Vorarlberg.

The Illwerke Zentrum Montafon (IZM) in Rodund is an unparalleled timber structure: with a usable floor area of over 10,000 m2, it was the largest office building made of wood in Central Europe on completion. Assembled in only six weeks, the timber construction above the concrete base is the first application of the LifeCycle Tower (LCT) system on the free market.

The building is an exemplar of integrated architecture. The alpine setting, materials research, modern technology, prefabrication, traditional craftsmanship, low energy / low carbon design, and social contribution all play their part in making the IZM a work of stunning Passivhaus architecture.

Hermann Kaufmann IZM: Illwerke Zentrum Montafon” is an elegantly restrained monograph of essays, beautiful photographs and clear drawings. It is, in a sense, reflective of the building itself. It maintains the very high standard of presentation and technical detail that can be found in all Detail magazines and books.

Passivhaus architecture is integrated architecture. This book details an exceptionally beautiful work of integrated architecture.

031 Exceptional Integrated Architecture

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