AECB Oxford region’s visit to Beattie Passive Graven Hill

On a wet and cold Monday in mid-January a dozen AECB members braved the weather to visit Beattie Passive’s current Passivhaus project at Graven Hill, Bicester. This is the country’s largest self-build/custom-build site of 1900 homes. Although it is expected that they will all be built to a high thermal standard, not all will be to Passivhaus. Along with Benedict O’Halloran, Paul Williamson showed the group two rows of terraces, with all nine homes at slightly different stages of completion. All these homes will be Passivhaus certified.

Beattie Passive has succeeded in creating interesting and innovative designs within the client brief, from the Graven Hill Development Company. The design of these homes with contemporary metal faced Mansard roofs did initially present a couple of construction problems – but that’s the nature of cutting edge technologies!

The timber elements for these terraces were constructed off-site by offenders retraining in one of our HM prisons. The elements were transported to Beattie Passive’s Flying Factory at Graven Hill, where they were turned into structural panels by a local labour force. Moving only 200 metres to site, the panels were erected by more local labour. As the Graven Hill site grows, Beattie Passive will move its Flying Factory around to follow the site’s build schedule.

At the time of our visit there were health and safety constraints on the whole site,

so we were unable to visit a couple of stick-built detached properties which Beattie Passive had just started. However, Paul offered a follow-up trip in the spring to see the completed terraces, the detached homes and their newest delivery method – a volumetric terrace of six homes.

Everyone there was very pleased with the visit and thanked Paul for arranging it. They would all like to revisit in the spring.