Welcome to the Eco Arc passive house news page

Hilltop Certified Passive House

Eco Arc has designed and completed on site the first green oak framed certified Passivhaus in the UK, Hilltop House, combining the best of traditional oak framing construction with contemporary super low energy design to the exacting passive house standards.

The house has been shortlisted for two design awards, Build It Awards 2017: Best Eco Home, and the Daily Telegraph / Homebuilding Awards: Best Passivhaus in the UK.

The build includes a fabric first Warmcell super insulated timber frame, with passive solar gain, tripled glazed windows, air tightness and heat recovery ventilation to make a beautifully crafted and thermally comfortable eco home.

Owner Dr Garnett wanted Eco Arc to create a home which balances ecologically friendly design with the convenience of conventional modern living.

The house is designed for all the stages of the occupants’ life cycle, with adequate space for living, playing, food production and laundry in an environment heated and ventilated throughout the day and night at minimal financial and environmental cost.

The downstairs floor planning design allows for disabled living with minimal adaptation, there is bicycle parking and access to local amenities by foot and bicycle and room for a vegetable garden on site that would reduce the need for bought produce and reduce the travel miles of the produce consumed.

The Passivhaus standard adopted at Hilltop House is a successful International ultra-low energy standard for buildings. This oak framed timber frame house uses only a fraction of the energy for heating of those built to the standards required by current building regulations, and delivers a low carbon solution without needing excessive renewable energy.

The build has been very much a team effort from all involved, led from the front with the vision and determination of the self-builder, Dr Phil Garnett, with an excellent working relationship between the Eco Arc Passive House Architect, Andrew Yeats, Alan Clarke Services Consultant and Oakwrights the timber frame supplier / installers

Comments from the new homeowner:

“When we got the opportunity to build our Green Oak Frame House, an ambition held for more than a decade, not only were we lucky enough to obtain a plot with panoramic views of the North Yorkshire coast but we also had the good fortune to find an architect and construction company with the ability to design and build a Green Oak Frame House that also achieved Passivhaus standard.

Now we are living in a home that is maintained at a constant optimal temperature with a continual supply of filtered fresh air from the MVHR, combine with this the subtle smell of wood, the visual appeal of the exposed oak frame and the peace and quiet created by the exceptional soundproofing of the Passivhaus construction and you have an environment that is perfect for all the senses generating a fantastic feeling of wellbeing.

We are looking forward to enjoying the changing seasons in the comfort of our new home in the knowledge that we will be utilising very little energy and reaping the subsequent environmental and financial rewards.”
Dr Phil Garnett

Windermere Passive House Is now complete

We originally secured planning permission for three new passive houses plots in Windermere as a speculative development project. Plots 2 & 3 were sold and the first passive house has now been built with detailed design involvement with the new owners.

Opportunities to construct new homes outside the constraints of the mainstream commercial sector with in the Lake District National Park are very limited. The chance to use this site to demonstrate good practice in low carbon rural housing and to raise the bar for what can be achieved has provided a strategic opportunity in local housing policy and practice.

The completed passive house is a positive response to both The Lake District National Park Authority and national housing sustainability policies. Eco Arc firmly believes that retaining architectural character and achieving low carbon status are achievable goals even on a sensitive site like Windermere. We are committed to high quality architectural design, using sympathetic robust local natural materials, while paying respect to and complementing existing architectural and regional character.

We feel the completed project has struck the right balance of traditional and contemporary design to fulfil the new owners’ expressed preferences, The Lake District National Park Authority policy preferences and our eco design credentials.

The restricted palette of natural materials includes Cumbrian slate roofing, natural grey galvanized steel gutters and down pipes. The walls are partly clad with Cedar timber boarding and off-white textured rough cast render. The house base wall and garden walls down to the stream flowing through the site are of local Cumbrian stone.  Fenestration is as light grey Alu clad triple glazed units set within deep reveals.

As with all fabric first Passive House projects that have been put through the rigors of PHPP environmental design analysis, the new home will be warm in winter & cool in summer, providing very high levels of comfort for the new owners with minimal fuel costs through the life of the building.


This completed Eco Arc passive house project could not have been successfully achieved without the inspired low energy design input of the Services Consultant Alan Clarke and ingenuity and hard work of the Cambrian based Timber frame Fabricators Eden Insulation http://edeninsulation.co.uk/ and the local Windermere builder and site manager Sam Nelson

Brantwood Terrace Coffee House and Restaurant

Eco Arc Have just completed a major restoration and extension of the former coach house at Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin, to create the Terrace Coffee House and Restaurant, now open to the public.

Housed in Brantwood’s stables and coach house ‘The Terrace’ marries heritage with casual café culture and a creative menu. The new facility has stunning views overlooking Coniston Water and The Old Man.  The Brantwood Trust’s aim was, quite simply, to ensure visitors get that same sense of inspiration, excitement and renewal when eating at the restaurant as you would when visiting the rest Brantwood.

The main historic house is Ruskin’s former home, museum and a vibrant centre for the arts. It offers a fascinating insight into the world of John Ruskin and the last 28 years of his life spent in the Lakes.

The Grade II listed stable and coach house dates from 1881-2. Built by John Ruskin, the building incorporated loose horse boxes and stalls as well as accommodation for the coach driver. The construction was a considerable undertaking with hundreds of tons of loose white clay having to be removed before construction. Following the purchase of the estate by John Howard Whitehouse and the formation of the Brantwood Trust the coach house became the home of a café catering to the visitors to the main house.

The Trust undertook a major redevelopment project for the building during the winter of 2016/17. Many thousands of Brantwood devotees took great interest in the work, but with their help and the tremendous effort of all our staff, architects, advisors and local tradesmen, The Terrace has exceeded all expectations.

Passivhaus Senior CoHousing Project on the Cairnlee Estate

Eco Arc are delighted to be working with the Camphill Trust in Aberdeen to look at the feasibility and detail design of the construction of a detached Passivhaus Senior CoHousing Project on the current site of Caranoc and Whithorn on the Cairnlee Estate.

Cairnlee Senior Cohousing Group aims to create a housing model that re-establishes many of the values embodied in the wider Camphill Community, balancing the advantages of privacy and control of one’s own space with engagement with the wider family neighbourhood through promoting social interaction, interdependence and shared common facilities.

The stronger sense of community which this design approach aims to achieve increases individual and collective quality of life, contributes to the immediate and wider community and allows the residents to live independently for longer.

The layout includes a protected, semi-enclosed, south facing communal garden which all flats look out onto and which the Common House opens up into.

Our aim is to give the building a welcoming, domestic feel whilst sitting comfortably alongside the larger scale of neighbouring buildings and consolidates the entrance to the site as a whole.

The private flats contain all the features of a conventional home with either 1 bedroom (14 units) or 2 bedrooms (6 units). Residents also have access to a ‘common house’ with shared facilities which include a communal entrance, central social/activity space with wood burning stove, kitchen for cooking and sharing simple meals together, dining area, utility/laundry room, wellbeing room for treatments and potentially a sauna, 2 guest rooms with en-suites, an office, terrace/garden to the ‘common house’, lifts and shared storage and parking.   The internal spaces are all linked with a glazed communal ‘pedestrian street’/social area lobbies linking the flats.

The buildings will be built to ‘Lifetime Homes’ standards, a set of 16 design criteria that provide a model for building accessible, inclusive, flexible, sustainable and adaptable homes.

The Community is proposed to be built on ecological values with the new ultra-low carbon building designed to meet the internationally respected Passivhaus standard (a German & UK adopted energy standard).

Gorton Monastery Welcome Wing is Now Complete

The new £3m Welcome Wing at Gorton Monastery in Manchester is now open, enabling community and learning activities to take place every day alongside the Monastery’s commercial function as an events venue.

The eco-friendly 6,650 sq. ft. building was commissioned by The Monastery of St Francis & Gorton Trust, the charity that saved and restored the existing Grade II* buildings and is now responsible for the upkeep of this heritage asset. The project, which took 12 months to complete, was made possible by a National Lottery grant of almost £2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), together with a £1million donation from the Stoller Charitable Trust.

The new building provides flexible, purpose-designed and carbon-neutral space, allowing the Trust to expand and extend its facilities and projects for the local community and general visitors, while continuing to host corporate and private events.

This new front wing sits on the footprint of an original building that was taken down in the 1960s. It has been carefully designed to seamlessly connect the modern building to the 150 year-old E.W. Pugin-designed former Church and Friary.

Elaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the Monastery Trust said: “This is a tremendously exciting day for us. This new building blends beautifully with the church and friary and we are delighted with the result.  We also love how it is flooded with light, making this a fantastic space for both community and corporate events. This has been the biggest investment we have made in the building since we completed the major £6.5 million restoration work to save the Monastery ten years ago and it’s wonderful to see it finished.”

Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “We’re delighted to see the new Welcome Wing at Gorton Monastery open its doors to the public and hugely grateful to the National Lottery players who have made this possible. Thanks to HLF support, the Monastery Trust has been able to carry out urgent conservation work and create this fantastic new space for the local community, celebrating the monastery’s history and making it sustainable for the future.”

The Monastery is widely regarded as Manchester’s most unique and inspiring events venue.  Its flexible space accommodates up to 450 people and is ideal for events from product launches and corporate celebrations to weddings and large social occasions. For smaller, more intimate occasions, the Private Chapel can hold up to 50 people and is perfect for private dining or small business events.

The Welcome Wing will provide additional and flexible space that will include a new reception area, space for functions, exhibition materials and a community space with dedicated education room as well as health and well-being facilities. Alongside the new build the Trust will continue the work begun in 2005, to restore and conserve important artefacts and features within the Great Nave including areas around the altar and reredos, the Lady Altar, plus original paint and stencil schemes, floor tiles and stone carvings.

Credits: As with all our Eco Arc projects completing the Welcome Wing at was team effort and the successful outcome could not have been achieved without the following key players in the project.

Elaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the Monastery Trust

David Ellis and Melanie Thomas from Earth Wise

Project management services to Burofour (& photo credits)

Project Conservation design services to Alan Gardner

Structural engineering deigns to Corbett and Tasker Ltd. www.corbett-tasker.com

Services design to Ramboll www.ramboll.co.uk

QS services to  Apple Yard & Trew  www.appleyardandtrew.com

Main contractor was HHS with specialist conservation works by Hirst.

Passivhaus Senior Co-Housing Project Lancaster

Eco Arc is delighted to be re-appointed to work with the Lancaster Cohousing Community to develop the feasibility and detail design of the construction of a detached Passivhaus Senior Co-Housing Project on an adjacent site.

Following the success of the delivery 41 certified code 6 passive houses now complete in Halton Lancaster, (http://ecoarc.co.uk/lancaster-co-housing/), the expanding community project is looking to develop up to 18 new passivhaus homes.

Eco Arc have begun community design workshops to develop the brief and start the space planning of the site as a collective design process with consensus decision making between all interested parties.

As well as the passive houses, residents will also have access to a ‘common house’ with shared facilities including a communal entrance, central social/activity space with wood burning stove, kitchen for cooking and sharing simple meals together, dining area, utility/laundry room, wellbeing room for treatments and potentially a sauna, 2 guest rooms with en-suites, an office, terrace/garden to the ‘common house’ and shared storage and parking all built to ‘Lifetime Homes’ standards.   The Community is proposed to be built on ecological values with new ultra-low carbon buildings designed to meet the internationally respected Passivhaus standard (a German & UK adopted energy standard).