Max Fordham House, Camden

All-electric Passive House with insulated automatic shutters

Designed in collaboration with the renowned physicist and services engineer, the late Max Fordham OBE, who sadly passed away in January 2022, aged 88. We will always feel hugely privileged to have been given the opportunity to collaborate so enjoyably with Max on his own house, which turned out to be his last project.

Building a house with insulated shutters was something Max had longed to do for years. Realising this dream clearly gave Max great enjoyment, both in the process of design and in the two years of fun that followed, including cycling to the RIBA, aged 86, in sandals and of course with no helmet, to accept two RIBA awards and the warmest congratulations from the hundreds of architects there, for whom he is a legend. His house became an Open House project and Max welcomed many people into his home of all ages over his last couple of years, urging them to take the baton and fight to save the planet.

Max's concept involved demonstrating an energy balance in the worst-case winter conditions. Automatically operated, insulated internal window shutters were developed for the project, with the aim being to see how close the completed building would get to needing no supplementary heating. As a result, the elevations of this house are largely driven by the challenge to accommodate horizontally-sliding thermal shutters within the internal fabric of the building.

Max wanted his last project to be a certified Passive House but our intention was to also celebrate Max’s personal approach to design; an approach totally committed to rational, environment-conscious engineering. Max's preferred approach was to avoid unnecessary embellishments that would detract from the main focus of the project, which is to demonstrate a technical concept that could have widespread benefits for retrofit and low-cost housing sectors.

Awards: CIBSE Residential Project of the Year 2021; Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Regional Award 2019; RIBA London Region's Sustainability Award 2019; shortlisted for 'House of the Year 2019' by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).


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