Nottingham’s postgraduates named joint winners in national Passivhaus competition

Two University of Nottingham postgraduate students from the Department of Architecture and Built Environment (DABE) are enjoying a double celebration after emerging as joint winners in the prestigious UK Passivhaus Student Competition. Passivhaus buildings provide a high level of comfort for the occupants while using very little energy for heating and cooling. Andres Guamani Rodriguez and Nuansa Atika Kusumastuti were awarded the accolades for their projects which were designed not only to achieve the Passivhaus Standard, but to also deliver on other sustainability targets.

Andres’ winning design, the Carbon Neutral Residential Development, comprised of carbon neutral homes which integrate Passivhaus principles. The development is surrounded by public space and green areas, which integrate energy and food generation. Nuansa’s winning entry named Heart Valley, is a development of Passivhaus homes based in Bestwood, Nottingham, that are designed to maximise the occupants’ comfort and minimise energy usage within a connected, inclusive, healthy and self-sufficient community.

Both projects were designed in response to a brief outlined by tutor and module convenor, Dr Lucelia Rodrigues, an Associate Professor in DABE, with the support of social housing providers, Nottingham City Homes with whom she collaborates.

Yogini Patel, Design and Research Associate with the Passivhaus Trust, and a member of the judging panel, explained why the students’ projects were deemed to be outstanding,Nuansa’s scheme showcased a simple form factor, which would help meet Passivhaus performance criteria and good consideration to shading, whilst judges were impressed with Andres’ clear comparisons of design iterations and development.”

Dr Rodrigues said, “I believe it is essential for students to engage with real life challenges, so I always use live sites such as the one in Bestwood in my studio teaching and encourage them to take part in national and international competitions. It is fantastic to be able to take part in the Passivhaus competition and even better to see the success of our Masters in Architecture and Environmental Design students.

“I teach sustainable and energy efficient design and have chosen to use the Passivhaus standards in studio sessions because I see it as the ideal vehicle to explore these challenges. The standard is flexible and simple in its approach as it allows students to explore throughout their design projects, the relationship between architectural design and performance in terms of comfort and energy efficiency.”

Andres is on a scholarship offered by the Ecuadorian government. He said, “I decided to come to Nottingham because of the University’s prestigious reputation and the Masters in Architecture is a much sought-after course. I studied the Passivhaus module in my second semester and I’m delighted to have won the competition. My winning project enabled me to secure a scholarship to do a summer term at the University of Natural Resources and Life Science in Vienna on green building solutions, sustainable urbanism and building engineering physics. Once this is completed, I intend to do an internship in Nottingham and then return to work in Ecuador and apply all the knowledge I’ve acquired here.”

Nuansa said, “I chose to study at Nottingham because I want to further my studies in environmental design. This particular approach isn’t widely applied in developments in Indonesia, which is where I’m from. I’m so happy to have won the competition and I hope it will lead to a great job back home. I’m on a scholarship offered by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education and I plan to work as an architect designing affordable residential buildings that use minimum energy. I would also like to join the Green Building Council in Indonesia so that I can encourage the stakeholders of the infrastructure developments to build environmentally responsible buildings.”

The competition had over 100 entries from five universities with an impressive number of high-quality designs. Both the University’s schemes achieved equally high scores, impressing the judges with their concepts that embraced Passivhaus principles.

The winners will receive their awards at a ceremony which will take place on 24 October at the UK Passivhaus Conference in London.

Nottingham’s DABE has a long and distinguished 140-year history and is renowned for its innovative work in green issues and sustainability. It is a leading centre for teaching in architecture, urban design and sustainable energy technologies. The Department has produced a string of successes which include Clara Bagenal George, an alumna who won this year’s UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Rising Star Award and Ben Hopkins, an alumnus who was named runner-up in the same award.