Passivhaus Affiliate

Hereford Archive accommodates students site visit

Although not yet open to the public for normal service, the award winning Hereford Archive and Record Centre (HARC) recently opened its doors to students seeking to experience a Passivhaus building at first hand. The site visit forms part of a pilot Passivhaus student competition.

After a short address from the sponsors Lafarge Tarmac, students were introduced to the concepts, material choices of the building and construction details with a presentation about the project from Mark Barry, Associate Director, Architype.

The group of approximately 40 students were taken on a tour of the building, led by HARC staff explaining how the new £8.1million facility is intended to be used and how the improvements will help their one-stop services to access to local historic and environmental records develop into the future. It is envisaged that due to the new facility having a multidisciplinary service, visitor numbers will rise significantly.

A building of 2 halves.

From the exterior you would be forgiven for thinking that the cedar shingle box reflects the timber construction and the slick white rendered element is the concrete construction, but upon closer inspection it is vice versa. 

Lightweight Timber Construction: houses the staff and public spaces, and can respond to occupants quickly. It is designed for an internal temperature of 18-25 degree celcius.

Heavyweight Concrete Construction: In contrast, the repositories are housed in a hygroscopic window-free construction, providing lots of thermal mass to help maintain a steady environment with cooler temperatures of 14 - 20 degree celcius and relative humidity of 40 - 60%. Further details on the construction elements and key team members can be found here.


Rather than fire sprinklers that would damage the fragile records, the repository has a gas supression system which limits the spread of fire by reducing the amount of oxygen in the rooms, and disperses inert gas via red pipes running across the ceiling. The canisters are all housed in the plant room. (Pictured above left.)

The building is very light, bright and quiet. Even though the main room that will house the public search area faces a major road with busy trafffic, little outside sound penetrated the triple glazing. (Pictured above right.) A large swale at the front of the building will not only provide sustainable drainage, but provides soft landscaping and acts as a physical buffer from the main road.  

Nick Grant shows off the plant room at HARC The whole building only required 2 boilers Plant room controls

Everyone's eyes lit up in the plant room. The tour was accompanied by the Trust's Technical Director, Nick Grant, who is working on the delivery team as a Passivhaus Consultant.

A huge thanks to Tarmac, Architype and HARC for such an interesting visit.

Student submissions for the competition - Developing a Passivhaus Masterplan for a UK town centre - will be judged in June, with winners announced at the end of the month.


Further Information

Passivhaus Student Competition

More photos can be seen here


Exterior of vented cedar shingle cladding, HARC, All photo credits: Passivhaus Trust

Participating Universities

University of Hertfordshire

University of Nottingham

University of the West of England

University of Hertfordshire University of Nottingham UWE


Sponsored by

Supported by

Lafarge Tarmac Architype

13th May 2015

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