Cate Trotter

PREFAB FRIDAY: Focus House in London by BERE Architects

by , 05/23/08

bere architects, focus house, north london prefab, timber, zinc cladding, grand designs, riba london region award, prefabricated housing, prefabricated buildings, focus1.jpg

Added to an end-of-terrace house in North London, Focus House is a delightful prefabricated eco-home for a family of five. Bere Architects, the firm behind the design, used PassivHaus principles to inform their process. The world’s leading energy efficiency standard, Passivhaus recognizes buildings that are so energy efficient all they need is a small electric heater. Focus House is a unique design that embodies the prefab principles of waste reduction and efficiency, and raises the bar on energy-efficient building design.


bere architects, focus house, north london prefab, timber, zinc cladding, grand designs, riba london region award, prefabricated housing, prefabricated buildings

Made in Austria and then transported to London in kit form, the building is formed of KLH UK solid timber panels, clad in zinc paneling. Not only is timber a less carbon-intensive material than concrete, it was cheaper and quicker to construct, taking a week to build for a cost of £50,000. The timber also helps to stabilize the building’s temperature, further reducing energy requirements.

Incoming air is warmed using waste heat from the bathroom, and a solar heater provides half of the building’s hot water requirements. But despite great ambition, the building doesn’t quite achieve PassivHaus standards. Although windows use a heat recovery ventilation system, they didn’t meet the PassivHaus triple glazing requirements. Still, the energy efficiency of this home stands as an example for low-impact living.

Measuring only 2.8m wide at the front, it’s hard to believe five people can live comfortably in the space. But with a glance at the back of the Focus House, you’ll see it widens to a swinging 7m, as well as offering a delightful garden and outdoor seating space.

We’re not the only one that thinks Focus House is an outstanding design. Grand Designs Awards presented it with ‘Best Eco House’, and RIBA felt it worthy of its London Region Award.

+ Bere Architects
+ PassivHaus

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3 Comments

  1. Mr Neighbour April 13, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Actually there was and remains significant support for this beautiful building from neighbours who have grown to love this little signpost to the future.

  2. Mrs Neighbour February 9, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Focus House may be innovative and eco friendly …. but most neighbours who have to live around it think it is absolutely hideous and are desperately trying to grow trees or tall shrubs nearby in order to hide it from view. It is known as Stalag 17 or the nissan hut …and sadly is completely out of place in a row of terraced Victorian houses. Perhaps it should have been built somewhere else!!

  3. Scott May 23, 2008 at 9:23 am

    I really enjoy reading the architecture related posts on this website in addition to all the others. It would be very beneficial to us architects out there if you could give us more information on how the systems you present work. The more we know the more we can implement the design strategies and systems in our own projects.
    Thanks!

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