Oyster Falls

Stunning Passivhaus Dwelling with Panoramic Ocean Views

Completed in 2013, this Passivhaus certified dwelling nestles in its cliffside location with stunning panoramic sea views across Croyde Bay in North Devon.

The client brief was for a large family dwelling with an external balcony, hard landscaping and parking. The house was required to sit low in the landscape and have floor to ceiling glazing facing the sea, running the length of the house.

The Design Challenge
The client requirement for large areas of glazing posed two significant design challenges that made achieving building control approval especially challenging: firstly, the dwelling could experience significant heat loss in the colder months, and secondly the house could experience large heat gains via the west-facing glazing in sunnier conditions.

The Solution
Gale & Snowden Architect’s ability to computer model and test the performance of the house at design stage proved invaluable. By designing the dwelling to Passivhaus standards - incorporating very high levels of thermal efficiency, burying the building into the hillside and delivering a robust cross-ventilation strategy - overheating and heat loss were accounted for and mediated.

Insulation and Thermal Bridging
External walls and roof constructions contain high levels of thermal insulation, typically between 0.08 and 0.14 W/m2K. Close attention to constructional detailing has ensured that the house is virtually thermal bridge free.
External windows and doors attain an average installed values of 0.85 W/m2K.

The property achieves an airtightness of 0.6 air changes per hour. Rigorous constructional detailing and high quality build enabled this exemplary standard to be achieved.

All habitable rooms and circulation spaces have high levels of natural daylight

Mechanical Ventilation (MVHR) and Cross Ventilation
The Passivhaus design solution requires the house to have an MVHR system. High internal air quality and energy efficiency levels are achieved. The house is also designed to allow the property to be cooled simply by opening external windows and doors and encouraging the sea breezes to cross-ventilate the house.

Building Biology
The dwelling is designed to building biology principles featuring:


  • non-toxic materials
  • organic materials
  • designing out the risk of dust mites
  • minimising electromagnetic radiation by good wiring design and specification
  • high levels of thermal comfort
  • high levels of natural daylight