It has just been announced that bere:architects in collaboration with the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment have been shortlisted in the BRE UK Passivhaus Competition for both the Watford and the Ravenscraig sites. The brief was to design a semi-detached residential Passivhaus for Watford where one dwelling will be allocated for social housing and one for mid-range market housing. For BRE Ravenscraig in Scotland, the brief was to design a detached residential Passivhaus for achieves Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6.

This follows an earlier successful shortlisting for the same team for the Whitehill Bordon Eco-Town Competition to design a terrace of three zero-carbon houses on the edge of the newly designated South Downs National Park in Hampshire, with the winner for this competition due to be announced in March 2012.

The shortlisted teams will now develop their concepts and prepare presentations for the site which will go on public display after the second stage submission date on January 20th. These designs will be formally presented to the judges at the end of January with the winner for each site due to be announced on the 31st of January.

In 2011, bere:architects and the Princes Foundation for the Built Environment were brought together by Thomas Stoney Bryans who was working on behalf of the RIBA, contributing research and writing to the RIBA sustainability blog. It was immediately obvious that there were strong synergies between the two organisations and these are well documented in a series of interviews between Justin Bere and James Hulme, the Director of Policy and Research at the Princes Foundation, published in the RIBA Sustainability Blog and found on the Publications page of our website. The first and most surprising discovery was that the Foundation were well researched in Passivhaus techniques and James Hulme expressed interest in building a Passivhaus if the opportunity arose. Also James Hulme discovered that Justin, while strongly drawn to the Scandinavian version of the Modern Movement, also holds a deep respect for traditional building methods and the inherant sustainabilty of a building that can be easily maintained.

So this competition is the second and third opportunity for bere:architects to design prototype houses with the collaboration of the Princes Foundation; to design and hopefully to build some truly low cost eco-houses at Watford and Ravenscraig, with beautiful proportions, natural, healthy materials and low embodied energy.