Swallow Court

New build commercial Passivhaus office development

The existing business complex ‘Swallow Court’ consists of ‘barn like’ 1 to 2 storey buildings with pitched roofs, arranged around a central courtyard. The new office building has been designed for a current tenant at Swallow Court. The new unit is to provide the tenant with the space required for their business growth and to gather their facilities within one unit, to optimise communication and logistic processes thus making their business more efficient.


The project has the following aims:


  • To provide a building that suits the client’s needs with the potential for future expansion
  • To preserve the rural character of the area by scale, design, and siting of the new development
  • To be an ecologically sustainable project in all respects
  • To be a healthy working environment for staff and clients alike


Landscape Integration

The landscaping has been designed to be an integral part of the architecture. Earth banks shelter the scheme from the motorway and merge to form the new two storey building which is topped by a green roof  to form a seamless “hill”. The unobtrusive architecture merges with the landscape and allows for a generous communal green space at the centre of the development maximising the amenity potential of the site.


Building Form and Massing

The intention is to ‘frame’ the existing buildings by mirroring the northern development and siting a new symmetric complex to the south. The L-shaped building consists of two wings, a double height area to the east with separate access and a two storey office tract to the west. To provide high levels of natural daylight, the width of the building has been limited to 12m.


Daylight Design

One of the key aims of the design was to achieve best practice daylight levels with a minimum of glazing. Large amounts of glazing contribute to internal heat gains and can cause overheating especially in summer. As the building follows passive design principles no air conditioning systems will be applied and therefore the right balance between appropriate daylight levels and minimizing solar gains needed to be found. To do this several different fenestration designs have been computer modelled before an optimized elevation was adopted.


Low Energy Design

The building is designed as a two storey timber frame construction. This offers a lightweight low embodied energy construction which is super-insulated with limited thermal bridging. A solid construction of internal walls and floor slabs guarantees sufficient thermal mass to reduce internal temperature fluctuations removing the need for air conditioning systems.


  • Super insulation and triple Glazing
  • Extremely high levels of air tightness
  • Natural daylight design
  • Inclusion of thermal mass to provide stable internal temperature fluctuations and reduce summertime overheating
  • Low energy lighting throughout
  • Solar water heating
  • Roofing – extensive green roof (sedum roof)


Low environmental impact natural materials used throughout and avoidance of PVC


Healthy building design – use of non VOC materials; avoidance of dust mite habitats; radial wiring to avoid low level EMFs; improved thermal comfort.


Water efficiency – low water use appliances; pressure reduction gauges, rain water collection system to WCs


The project has been designed to exceed Carbon Trust ‘Best Practice’ for office design.