Thursday, 3 December 2015

G&S Knights Place featured in Passive House Plus magazine: Warm & Healthy Flats that Need No Heating

Gale & Snowden's affordable housing scheme in Exeter, Knights Place, has been featured on the Passive House Plus (PH+) magazine website.

PH+, a bimonthly publication and website focused on Passivhaus and Passive House technology features Knights Place in an article entitled Warm and Healthy Devon Flats that Need no Heating.

Completed in 2011, Knights Place, an award-winning exemplar sustainable housing scheme that is fully accessible according to Lifetime Homes Standards, was amongst the first multi-residential certified passive houses in the UK.

The scheme was designed with low energy use throughout: the holistic passive design strategy allows the units to be operated without a conventional heating system, and at the same time avoiding overheating in summer.  The result of this is extremely low heating energy bills for tenants, tackling fuel poverty.

Gale & Snowden, with funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) / Innovate UK, revisited the scheme a year after completion and undertook a two year building performance evaluation monitoring exercise, between 2012 and 2014. 

Our previous blog post TSB Monitoring at Knights Place Proves Passivhaus Works outlines the results of the exercise and includes the full report.

During the monitoring period, several of the flats were not using any heating and the ones that were, had energy bills in line with the design predictions.  The two year study included a winter extreme and summer heat wave that exceeded the current summer weather files used as part of the overheating design assessment.  We were able to assess in detail how a super-insulated building performs during these hot extremes.   

Even in the UK climate, overheating in buildings and homes is becoming increasingly common and problematic.  It was imperative to us that we did not follow this trend.

We assessed with PHPP and dynamic thermal modelling software optimising cross flow ventilation strategies, glazing ratios, and construction mass.  Our study found that the flats perform as designed using current weather design files and that they also performed well during weather extremes, exhibiting no overheating.  This has given us even greater confidence in the design approach we take, and the design tools we use.   

In addition to their low energy credentials the buildings were also designed using Building Biology healthy design principles.  We were able to include in the study the testing and evaluation of our low electromagnetic radiation (EMR) design, daylight design and air quality.  G&S is the founding member of the Building Biology Association UK and is pleased to be able to offer healthy building surveys and consultancy services.

All the tests found the flats to be operating within their design parameters - optimum daylight levels, low EMR and excellent air quality.  In some flats we optimised the MVHR further to provide better air quality than detailed in the ventilation regulations, which is one advantage of an MVHR system.   

Through an ongoing process of evaluation and review, our experience gained in the design and subsequent monitoring of this exemplar scheme is now being used to further optimise future designs.

To view more information and images of Knights Place, visit the project profile on our website. Also take a look at other residential projects by Gale & Snowden Architects.

Follow us on twitter for the latest updates @galeandsnowden

Friday, 27 November 2015

Exeter Active Passivhaus swimming pool plans to go on show at Public Consultation exhibition

Members of the public are invited to visit the Exeter Guildhall to view plans for the new Passivhaus leisure centre, Exeter Active, at a two day public consultation event next week.

Initial design concept for 'Exeter Active', the first Passivhaus Certified leisure building in the UK

The project will see the current bus and coach park at Paris Street redeveloped to deliver two swimming pools, fitness suite, health spa, exercise studios, café and crèche contained within the UK's first Passivhaus leisure building.

The eight lane pool and four lane learner pool will both have moving floors to maximise their flexibility and accessibility for a wide range of water sports, and there will be an additional water confidence pool for babies and young children to get their first taste of a swimming pool environment.  Based on Building Biology principles, the pools will include modern filtration techniques which minimise the use of harmful chemicals while ensuring that the water quality is well in excess of the average for a standard UK pool.

Designed to the Passivhaus standard, the new leisure centre is expected to deliver a 70% saving on energy usage compared to a standard leisure centre.  This substantial saving, along with the attractive range of facilities, will ensure the profitability of Exeter Active, generating income for the Council to invest in facilities and services throughout the city.

G&S is proud to form an integral part of the Exeter Active design team being: Passivhaus Designer, Building Biology IBN Consultant, Climate Change Adaptation Consultant, and Architect for the external envelope of the building.

The Public Consultation exhibition will take place at Exeter Guildhall on Monday 30th November between 12 and 7pm and Tuesday 01 December between 11am and 7pm.

Gale & Snowden Architects, together with other members of the design team, will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the plans with visitors.  

We look forward to seeing you there!!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

@BristolCouncil seeks Contractor for #Passivhaus Council Homes #passivhausbristol #ecodesign #BuildingBiology

Five sites comprising 23 new dwellings designed by Gale & Snowden will soon be out to tender via the Proactis Portal.

As part of the second wave of Bristol’s New Build Council House programme, the scheme takes previously undeveloped, council-owned sites in the Lawrence Weston area of Bristol and provides a mix of family houses and bungalows of various sizes to meet local demand.

Using a simple palette of robust materials, the design and detailing is common throughout the units to create a contemporary take on the local vernacular and provide a cohesive aesthetic between the sites.  Developing Passivhaus homes as part of BCC’s housing delivery helps to tackle fuel poverty together with further supporting Bristol’s status of European Green Capital 2015.

Proposed Passivhaus dwellings in Lawrence Weston, Bristol

As founding members of the Building Biology Association UK, G&S bring their healthy building approach to all projects through the careful specification of materials and systems.  Exclusive use of organic paints, stains and waxes helps to reduce VOCs and radial wiring along carefully planned cable routes reduces electromagnetic radiation, especially in bedrooms.

The landscape design focuses on key human needs of food, water, energy and shelter in a way that also enhances the natural environment by employing permaculture principles.  It integrates the new developments with their surroundings and creates a sense of ownership and community for its future residents.

Gale & Snowden are able to draw on their experience with Exeter City Council in delivering 41 Passivhaus dwellings for downsizing units and family homes, plus a two-year monitoring project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board, which successfully analysed the dwellings in use and compared real time data to design models.  A further 26 Passivhaus units designed by G&S have recently received planning permission for ECC.

Passivhaus Council Homes in Exeter for Exeter City Council by Gale & Snowden Architects Ltd.

Planning permission was granted in September 2015 and tenders will be sought for the scheduled start date of February 2016.

Friday, 13 November 2015

North Devon #Passivhaus Oyster Falls featured in @phplusmag #BuildingBiology #ecodesign

Gale & Snowden Architects' North Devon Passivhaus project 'Oyster Falls' has been featured in the latest issue of the Passive House Plus (PH+) magazine.

The four-bedroom family home, completed in 2013, nestles in its cliffside location with uninterrupted panoramic sea views across Croyde Bay in North Devon, towards Lundy Island and the North Atlantic.

The project is showcased throughout a five page feature in Issue 13 of PH+, a bimonthly publication focused on Passivhaus and Passive House technology.

Project architect and G&S Director, Ian Snowden, was all too aware of the design challenges faced by the project but says that the design team "worked very hard to consistently meet the Client's brief and ensure that environmental and performance parameters were satisfied to stabilise the internal environment, preventing excessive heat loss, minimise overheating and achieve the requisite airtightness.  Combining the desired aesthetic of clean, minimal lines with complex airtight and thermal bridge free details was often very challenging but we were able to overcome the difficulties and the results speak for themselves."

G&S was able to draw on extensive Passivhaus experience and rigorously apply the standard's principles to ensure that the building performed optimally despite an exacting design brief and challenging site.

Construction manager, Eddie Acford of Point 6 Projects, himself with experience of building Passivhaus, says "It's testament to the design really, that a building in such a location with such an amount of glazing and such complexity can work in such a way.  It is really something."

Architect Jonathan Barattini who worked with Ian on the project recalls: "This is arguably one of the most exceptional sites in North Devon.  To do anything other than enable the occupants to enjoy a seamless experience of that magnificent view would do them, the house and the site a disservice."

To view more information and images of Oyster Falls, visit the project profile on our website. Also take a look at similar one-off houses by Gale & Snowden Architects.

Follow us on twitter for the latest updates @galeandsnowden

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Renovation of Victorian house in @dartmoornpa National Park becomes first PHI Low Energy Building in UK #Passivhaus #ecodesign

Westcott House, a large Victorian country residence within Dartmoor National Park, has become the first building in the UK to be certified under the Passivhaus Institute’s (PHI) Low Energy Building Standard.

The new standard is designed to acknowledge projects which have overcome contextual and constructional challenges to achieve some of the highest standards of low energy design in the world.

Gale & Snowden applied a holistic passive design strategy to the renovation and extension of the house which allowed the existing property to be upgraded to a level of efficiency such that a conventional heating system will only be required in times of extreme winter conditions.  At the same time, summertime overheating is avoided and overall environmental impact is minimised.

Extremely high levels of insulation have been added to the existing building, both externally and, where existing stone facing was to be retained, internally, together with high-performance, triple glazed windows and doors.  Rigorous detailing was required to ensure continuity of insulation and airtightness around the building to reduce heat loss and minimise thermal bridging. 

The fabric-first approach was combined with a highly efficient mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery to ensure excellent indoor air quality and minimise heat losses through infiltration.  Low carbon technologies and on-site renewables further contribute to reducing the building’s overall carbon footprint.

Further information about Westcott House can be found here

Monday, 9 November 2015

G&S Keynote Project from UK Passivhaus Conference 2015 Now Online! #UKPHC15 #Passivhaus

Gale & Snowden Architects recently presented one of the keynote projects at this year's UK Passivhaus Conference, on 20th October 2015 at the Business Design Centre in London.

Presented alongside AFLS+P, the live project Exeter Leisure Centre ('Exeter Active') was discussed, focussing on the design challenges faced throughout the project so far.

Initial design concept for 'Exeter Active', the first Passivhaus Certified leisure building in the UK

Gale & Snowden Architects are working alongside a team of consultants (including AFLS+PARUPARCADISLDA Design and Continuum) to deliver not only the first Passivhaus Certified leisure building in the UK, but also the first leisure building to be designed in accordance with Building Biology IBN principles and to be Future Climate Ready. This innovative building is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The presentation is now available to view online:

More information on the 'Exeter Active' project can be found on Gale & Snowden's recent blog post.

Gale & Snowden additionally presented 'Designing for Cost Optimisation' alongside Parsons + Whittley, also available to view online:

Further information about the UK Passivhaus Conference 2015 (including the full conference programme) can be found on their website here.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

G&S #Passivhaus & #buildingbiology Architects for First UK Passivhaus Leisure Centre in Exeter @ExeterActive @ExeterCouncil #ecodesign

Gale & Snowden Architects are pleased to present the initial design concept for the first Passivhaus Certified Leisure building in the UK. We are working alongside a team of consultants (including AFLS+P, ARUP, ARCADIS, LDA Design and Continuum) to deliver not only the first Passivhaus leisure building in the UK, but also the first leisure building to be designed in accordance with Building Biology IBN principles and to be Future Climate Ready. This innovative building is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The following article has been written by Creatrix about the project:

Exeter is looking to confirm its place at the cutting edge of sustainable building, with Exeter Active set to be the UK’s first Passivhaus Leisure Centre, delivering an impressive saving of up to 70% on energy costs.

Already home to the Met Office, and with the University of Exeter at the forefront of climate research, the city has a global reputation as a centre of excellence in climate science. Exeter City Council has already built on this reputation by being the first UK Council to develop social housing constructed to Passivhaus standards. It was a logical step therefore for Exeter City Council to choose to apply the rigorous sustainability standard to Exeter Active, the new Leisure Centre planned for the city centre to replace the ageing and inefficient Pyramids pool.

The Exeter Active project team is joined by representatives from the Passivhaus Institute, the German-based home of the Passivhaus standard. The involvement of the Institute in the Exeter Active project will ensure the team is provided with expert guidance on best practice in Passivhaus design for leisure Centres.

The Exeter Active design team also includes Exeter-based Passivhaus architects, Gale & Snowden Architects, specialists in sustainable building techniques. A spokesperson from the practice explained “We have a wealth of experience in delivering Passivhaus buildings, having previously worked with Exeter City Council to deliver the UK’s first Passivhaus social housing. A Passivhaus swimming pool and leisure complex has never been built in the UK before, so we are delighted that the Passivhaus Institute has joined the team to bring their expertise from having worked on Europe’s only Passivhaus pools in Germany. We are working up a design that will deliver a saving of at least 70% in energy consumption over a standard UK leisure centre.”

BREEAM is the usual build standard of sustainability used in the UK, but takes a broad brush approach. In contrast, the Passivhaus standard focusses primarily on the energy demand of the building in operation. As energy usage accounts for over a third of the cost of running a Leisure Centre with swimming pools, the Passivhaus standard will have a substantial impact on the energy efficiency, and by extension profitability of Exeter Active. Jessica Grove-Smith of the Passivhaus Institute said “The Passivhaus pools currently in operation in Germany have delivered impressive results in terms of energy efficiency. As frontrunner projects they are attracting attention from communities worldwide that are looking to apply the concept to their own projects in order to contribute to climate change mitigation and save operation costs."

Gale & Snowden bring more than Passivhaus experience to the team however. They also specialise in “building biology”, a discipline which places health and wellbeing at the heart of the design process. This includes exploring innovative water treatment methods for Exeter Active’s pools to reduce the reliance on harsh chemicals, making the pool environment a more pleasant place to be. The firm’s spokesperson explained “In the UK we tend to focus on aspects like diet when it comes to health and wellbeing, but pay little attention to the impacts the buildings we occupy have on our health. For example, German and Swiss standards for pool water are much more demanding than in the UK, being on a par with drinking water standards. Studies show that in a 45 minute swimming lesson a child can swallow up to a pint of water. It makes sense therefore to strive to make the quality of the pool water as good as possible, minimising the use of potentially harmful chemicals.”

The Exeter Active design team is working up initial designs for the new leisure centre. The complex will include two pools, both with moveable floors to maximise accessibility and flexibility, a 150 station fitness suite, a health & wellbeing spa, flexible studio spaces, crèche and softplay. A public exhibition of the initial plans will be held later in the Autumn. More information about the project can be found at

Exeter Active initial design concept featured in the Exeter Express and Echo, October 22nd 2015
Passivhaus in Exeter
A Passivhaus leisure centre will be a first for the UK, but Exeter City Council has considerable experience with the ultra-sustainable building technique, as one of the first councils in the UK to deliver Passivhaus social housing.

The completion Rowan House and Knight's Place by the Council in 2011 put Exeter at the vanguard of Passivhaus social housing in the UK. Many such schemes have since followed across the country, with councils recognising the benefits of the technique in terms of occupier comfort and greatly-reduced energy usage, resulting in much lower energy bills for the resident.

Exeter City Council has since delivered three more Passivhaus social housing schemes in the city, at Bennett Square (Barberry Close), Brookway (Silverberry Close) and Newport Road (Reed Walk).

Exeter City Council leader, Cllr Pete Edwards, said “We are proud to have led the way on the development of Passivhaus housing in the UK. Exeter has forged a reputation as a global centre of excellence on climate change and sustainability, and it makes sense for us as a council to play our part by applying the most rigorous standards in sustainable building to public sector projects.”

A resident at Knight’s Place, one of Exeter City Council’s first Passivhaus developments, said “I love the fact that the flat is warm all the time and whenever I come in from outside it is always nice and warm unlike any other building I have been in”. Another resident added, “I have never felt uncomfortably hot or cold a single day since moving in”

We are pleased to be working alongside a great project team including the client and consultants, and look forward to developing the design with them over the next few months. 

We will keep you updated as the project develops - exciting times!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Gale & Snowden is Now Recruiting! #CDM2015

Gale & Snowden Architects is looking for an experienced CDM Consultant to work with the practice to enhance our Principle Designer services and procedures under the CDM Regulations 2015.  This position will be on a part-time basis. 

Suitable candidates will be able to demonstrate a minimum of 3 years experience as the CDM Co-ordinator for a range of construction projects and must have relevant qualifications e.g.  CITB CSCS/NEBOSH construction certificate, Association of CDM Co-ordinators CDM Certificate (AcPC3) or equivalent.

Please send your CV to Maria Gale at our Bideford office:

18 Market Place
EX39 2DR

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

G&S Presenting Keynote Project at UK Passivhaus Conference 2015 #UKPHC15 #Passivhaus

Gale & Snowden Architects are pleased to announce that they are presenting a keynote project at this year's UK Passivhaus Conference in London.

G&S Director and Certified Passivhaus Designer, Tomas Gartner, will be representing Gale & Snowden on Tuesday 20th October 2015 at the Business Design Centre in London.

Tomas will be presenting one of the Conference's Keynote Projects alongside AFLS+P's Mark Thomas; the pair will be discussing live project Exeter Leisure Centre ('Exeter Active') and the design challenges faced throughout the project so far.

This presentation will be held in the main auditorium in 'Session 2' of the conference, between 11:30 and 13:00.

Tomas will also be presenting 'Designing for Cost Optimisation' alongside Parsons + Whittley's Chris Parsons in 'Session 3' of the conference, between 14:00 and 15:15 in room EF.

Further information about the UK Passivhaus Conference 2015 (including the full conference programme) can be found on their website here.

Gale & Snowden Architects has been designing low energy buildings since 1992, and since 2008 G&S has been at the forefront of delivering Passivhaus Buildings in the UK including residential, commercial, education, leisure and public buildings, both new-build and refurbishment.

To achieve the high performance passive low energy buildings that their clients are seeking, G&S offer the in-house expertise to integrate, dynamically model and design all architectural, mechanical and electrical requirements for any building scheme. The practice offers a full design service or individual consultancy service to developers, contractors or designers seeking to meet the stringent criteria of the Passivhaus standard.

Gale & Snowden is registered with the Passivhaus Institute in Germany as Certified Designers, as well as being a member of the Passivhaus Trust in the UK.

Further information about Gale & Snowden Architects as Passivhaus Designers can be found here.

Friday, 9 October 2015

@ExeterCouncil #Passivhaus developments by G&S win 'Best Domestic New Build' at #INCAAwards2015

At the INCA (Insulated Render and Cladding Association) Awards last night in London, Bennett Square and Brookway (Barberry Close and Silverberry Close) jointly scooped the "Domestic New Build" Award.

Gale & Snowden worked closely with Exeter City Council, Interserve Construction, Alsecco and PRS Group to deliver the projects which are now fully occupied with happy tenants.

Barberry Close
Photo: Alsecco/Elizabeth Savage

G&S would like to thank all those involved in making the schemes so successful and for together placing the spotlight on Passivhaus, healthy housing that helps to defeat fuel poverty.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

G&S Nominated for INCA Award #INCAAwards2015

Gale & Snowden Architects have been shortlisted for a 2015 INCA Award.

INCA, the Insulated Render and Cladding Association, is the recognised trade association for the external wall insulation (EWI) industry. The longstanding INCA Awards demonstrate the vital role for EWI in improving the energy efficiency of buildings, lifting households out of fuel poverty and transforming local communities.

Gale & Snowden are short-listed within the 'Domestic New Build' category for their fourteen affordable COB2 Passivhaus projects Barberry Close (Bennett Square) & Silverberry Close (Brookway), working with Exeter City Council, Alsecco (UK) Ltd and PRS Group.

A pdf project report case study of the two developments, written by Alsecco, can be found here.

Barberry Close and Silverberry Close are two of three developments completed earlier this year by Gale & Snowden Architects for Exeter City Council.  Together with Reed Walk the sites provide twenty new houses for Exeter’s social tenants.

Barberry Close
Photo credit: Alsecco / Elizabeth Savage
Silverberry Close
Photo credit: Alsecco / Elizabeth Savage
Silverberry Close
Photo credit: Alsecco / Elizabeth Savage

The award ceremony will take place at the black-tie INCA Awards dinner on Thursday 8th October 2015 at the prestigious 8 Northumberland in London.

"Our design focussed on a fabric first and optimal orientation approach based on Passivhaus principles to first minimise the energy demand of the building, reducing its carbon emissions, before adding renewables where appropriate. The result is a low-carbon solution that responds to a changing climate and tackles fuel poverty at the same time.
 By incorporating Building Biology healthy design principles in to the design from the outset, the building can provide an uplifting and life-enhancing environment. Building Biology is the holistic study of the man-made environment, human health and ecology.
The developments at Brookway and Bennett Square therefore incorporate a range of measures to ensure a healthy and comfortable internal environment including such features as organic paints and stains with low or no toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), radial electrical wiring designed to reduce the amount of electro-magnetic radiation and easily cleanable surfaces with no fitted carpets which can harbour dust mites, to name but a few."
- David Gale, Gale & Snowden Architects

Gale & Snowden are working towards reducing the environmental impact of existing buildings and have a longstanding history of using external wall insulation (EWI) on dwellings. This has been recognised as being exemplary in a number of publications, including the Carbon Trust / BRE - Good Practice Guide 293: External Wall Insulation for Dwellings, which Gale & Snowden wrote for the BRE and has since been updated by the Carbon Trust.

This publication is a technical appraisal of the EWI industry and provides guidance for designers and specifiers of external wall insulation for dwellings. It can be viewed online here, or below:

To view the INCA Press Release and full nominations for the INCA Awards, click here.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Excellent Turnout at the @MyHomebuilding Show @ExCeLLondon #HBRshow15 #BuildingBiology #HealthyBuildings #Passivhaus

Gale & Snowden Architects have just returned from an enjoyable but long weekend at London Excel, where they represented the Building Biology Association at the 'Homebuilding and Renovating Show' over the 25th, 26th and 27th September 2015.

There was a considerable amount of interest in all things Building Biology, Healthy Buildings and Passivhaus over all three days, with plenty of exciting discussions about how these concepts could be implemented within projects at various stages from inception to completion.

If you were at the show and didn't get a chance to say hello, and want to find out more about the Building Biology Association or Gale & Snowden Architects, please get in touch with us here.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Click Here for Free Tickets to @MyHomebuilding Show @ExCeLLondon #HBRshow15 #BuildingBiology #HealthyBuildings

As we mentioned in our previous post, Gale & Snowden Architects will be representing The Building Biology Association UK at the 'Homebuilding and Renovating Show' at London Excel on 25, 26 & 27 September 2015.

If you are attending the show and would like two free tickets, click on the image below and fill out the form, before 3pm on Thursday 24th September 2015.  Alternatively, click here (will open in a new tab).

The Building Biology Association UK, based in Exeter, Devon, is a national educational and research not-for-profit organisation, which has been set up to promote healthy building awareness to the general public as well as the construction industry.  The organisation is linked to many similar Healthy Building organisations around the world to share knowledge and experience.

Gale & Snowden Architects, having been pioneering healthy building design for over 20 years in the UK are the founding members of the Building Biology Association UK. They have become the first Building Biology Consultancy in the UK to be officially accredited by the Institute for Building Biology and Ecology (IBN) in Germany.

The Building Biology Association stand will be located at stand B157 - if you are at London Excel during the show we would be pleased to see you - come over and say hello!

Terms and conditions regarding free tickets can be found on the Homebuilding and Renovating Show website.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

G&S & Building Biology Association UK to present @MyHomebuilding Show @ExCeLLondon #HBRshow15 #BuildingBiology #HealthyBuildings

Healthy Buildings come to London!

Gale & Snowden Architects will be representing The Building Biology Association UK at the 'Homebuilding and Renovating Show' at London Excel on 25, 26 & 27 September 2015.

Baubiology (Building Biology) is the study of the holistic interrelationships between humans and their (built) living environment.  Today, our living environment is defined by the spaces and buildings we have created for ourselves.  Most of us take great care when it comes to what we eat, where our food comes from, what we give to our children, and how we keep fit etc., but when it comes to construction the focus is only very rarely on the human being, their health or wellbeing.  Very often the focus is predominantly cost-driven and economic viability - low maintenance costs and short payback periods are typically the key drivers for developments.  On average we spend about 90% of our time indoors and 30% of our time in bedrooms.  With these exposure times even low concentrations of potentially harmful substances can affect our health in the long term and cause chronic diseases.  More vulnerable inhabitants like children and elderly persons are particularly exposed to this risk. Baubiology is about managing this risk. 

The Building Biology Association UK, based in Exeter, Devon, is a national educational and research not-for-profit organisation, which has been set up to promote healthy building awareness to the general public as well as the construction industry.  The organisation is linked to many similar Healthy Building organisations around the world to share knowledge and experience.
Gale & Snowden Architects, having been pioneering healthy building design for over 20 years in the UK, are the founding members of the Building Biology Association UK. They have become the first Building Biology Consultancy in the UK to be officially accredited by the Institute for Building Biology and Ecology (IBN) in Germany. 

The Building Biology Association stand will be located at stand B157, below.

The Building Biology Association Exhibition at London Excel follows on from success at the Exeter Self Build Show at Westpoint on September 12th and 13th earlier this month.

Gale & Snowden at the Self Build Show at Exeter Westpoint Centre

If you are at London Excel during the show we would be pleased to see you - come over and say hello!

More information on Building Biology Association founding member Gale & Snowden Architects can be found here.

The Building Biology Association, Exeter Bank Chambers, 67 High Street, Exeter, EX4 3DT. 01392 279220

The Building Biology Association stand will be located at B157

Thursday, 25 June 2015

New Museum Extension Revealed

The new proposed extension to the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum was revealed this week at an event on Monday evening at the Museum.

Gale & Snowden Architects were selected to undertake a study for North Devon District Council to undertake concept designs for a new Museum extension. 

The proposals revealed on Monday show a new modern extension to the West wing of the existing Victorian Grade II Listed Museum, and next to the nationally significant Grade I medieval 'Long Bridge' originally constructed in 1280. 

The site was once home to a building of some significance (see image below), however this was demolished last century, leaving behind leftover space which the new Gale & Snowden design seeks to heal.

Previous building on the site

At the same time the design seeks to recreate the ‘Gateway to Barnstaple', which was once formed by the previous building on the site and the opposite Bridge Chambers building, with the Long Bridge framed between these buildings.

The new Museum extension will incorporate low energy and healthy building features for which Gale & Snowden has become renowned. The design also addresses the significant historical setting in the centre of an ancient market town, whilst creating a state-of-the-art museum experience.

View from the Square, looking south

Internal view of the extension, looking south towards the Taw

View looking north across the Taw - note the 'Gateway to Barnstaple'

Gale & Snowden previously designed the new Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) Collection Store known as the ‘ARK’, and the RAMM in the Library museum exhibition - both in Exeter. The practice is currently in the process of designing another museum for a community in South Devon.

More information on the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum can be found on their web site:

Monday, 15 June 2015

Congratulations Torrington Bluecoats from Gale & Snowden Architects! #ofsted @northdevon24

Gale & Snowden Architects would like to congratulate the pupils, staff and Governors of Torrington Bluecoat School for achieving such an impressive OFSTED report. 

North Devon Gazette.  10 June 2015

Gale & Snowden were the Architects for the building which was competed in 2006.  The building design follows the practice's approach to low energy, healthy building design and features: super-insulated timber frame construction; high levels of natural daylight; natural and low VOC materials; and an innovative covered entrance orangery space, amongst an array of educational, ecological and energy efficient measures. 

The project was originally undertaken as part of a community consultation process which reviewed education for all ages in the Torrington area, known as 'Torrington Vision'.  Gale & Snowden are very proud to be part of the Torrington Vision having also been commissioned to design a series of projects connected to the ‘Vision' including the Early Years Centre, the Children's Centre, the extension to the Torrington Juniors School and new drama and art departments at Torrington College  all designed and built over the last two decades with the Community.

For more information about the Great Torrington Bluecoat School:

We wish you well!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Gale & Snowden is now recruiting! CIBSE Chartered Mechanical and Electrical Engineer @CIBSE

Gale & Snowden Architects is looking for a CIBSE / IMECHE / EI Chartered Mechanical and suitably Chartered Electrical Engineer to join our team in Exeter and Bideford.

We are an integrated team of architects, landscape architects, mechanical engineers, building physicists and biologists, certified Passivhaus designers and permaculture designers. As biologists who are also architects, our focus extends beyond the building. Our designs regenerate the environment, working with, rather than against natural systems; integrating people into designed, productive ecosystems.

Suitable candidates will have over 3 years experience in practice and be interested in a fabric-first, low-energy, and healthy building design approach.

Please send your CV to our Bideford office at the address below or email

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Design for Future Climate #D4FC Legacy Report - The Business Case for Adapting Buildings to #Climate Change

Innovate UK / Technology Strategy Board (TSB) have recently published the final report into The Business Case for Adapting Buildings to Climate Change.

Gale & Snowden Architects were expert panel members for this report which examines the drivers in the business case for adapting buildings for climate change.  This was an industry led report providing a unique and valuable insight with key recommendations on how to exploit the business opportunity and develop the market for adaptation services – moving the subject from niche research to mainstream delivery.

Gale & Snowden Architects and Engineers provide a full 'Design for Future Climate' consultancy service for both existing and new-build projects.  The integration of a climate change adaptation strategy for a development is best undertaken at the outset of the project and can often, for little additional expenditure, ensure that a project is fit for the future without the need for either significant and costly adaptation or the future introduction of energy intensive systems.

Further information on Gale & Snowden's 'Design for Future Climate' consultancy service is available here:  Climate Ready: Designing for Future Climate Scenarios

Monday, 30 March 2015

Outstanding initial air test results for @ExeterCouncil #Passivhaus housing development #buildingbiology #ecodesign

The first in a series of initial air tests at one of Exeter City Council's developments of Passivhaus homes has delivered outstanding results of 0.19 air changes per hour (depressurisation) and 0.2 air changes per hour (pressurisation) at 50Pa.  

Air testing with a door fan underway at Reed Walk

The development of 6 houses near Newport Road, Exeter, which will be known as 'Reed Walk' is being built by independent contractor, C G Fry & Son.  It is one of three sites currently being developed by ECC to deliver high-quality, affordable Passivhaus homes for Exeter's social tenants.

The design of the houses utilises dense concrete blockwork walls, wrapped with high levels of external wall insulation and render. The combination of high internal thermal mass, insulation, thermal-bridge-free design, and exceptional airtightness will result in excellent, stable comfort levels and very low energy bills for tenants.  Together with the specification of healthy building materials based on Building Biology principles, the houses will provide exemplar living conditions and tackle fuel poverty.

Gale & Snowden Architects Ltd, with offices in Exeter and North Devon are the architects, mechanical and electrical engineers, landscape architects, Passivhaus designers, and permaculture designers for the project.  The practice has been delivering low environmental impact, healthy buildings across all sectors for the past 23 years.  Structural engineering and civil engineering services are undertaken by StructureHaus, formerly Paul Carpenter Associates.

The recent air test results represent airtightness levels of approximately 1/25th of those currently demanded by UK Building Regulations.  Air quality in the homes will be maintained to a high standard via highly-efficient mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery (MVHR).

Jonathan Barattini, Project Architect at Gale & Snowden said "Air tightness is achieved primarily using wet finishes such as plaster and screed with membranes where necessary.  Attention to detail, particularly where junctions between different materials occur, is paramount. Gale & Snowden would like to commend the Main Contractor, C G Fry & Son, for their workmanship and site supervision in achieving this."  

A fundamental understanding of the Passivhaus principles, particularly regarding the airtightness strategy, is required of any Contractor in order to deliver this type of scheme successfully.  C G Fry and their 'airtightness champion' and site manager, George Richards, have consistently worked closely with Gale & Snowden in order to fully understand the details and principles necessary to deliver the requisite 0.6 air changes per hour demanded by the Passivhaus Standard.  The excellent results achieved are testament to this collaborative approach to construction.  Work on the remaining 5 units is progressing and they are scheduled for initial air tests in the near future.  C G Fry also plans to undertake an intermediate air test once all first fix services and carpentry is completed, prior to plasterboard to ceilings and internal walls being installed.  This will allow a simple visual inspection of the integrity of the airtight barrier before it is covered up ready for finishing.  The whole team will be hoping for similarly successful results in all subsequent tests.

Kevin Murch, Construction Director at C G Fry and Son says “C G Fry are pleased to be carrying out this unique project for Exeter City Council and delighted to be working with Gale & Snowden to add our constructional expertise to the challenging targets set for this Passivhaus build project.  This is the second Passivhaus project C G Fry & Son has carried out with Gale & Snowden and George Richards, our airtightness champion, has past experience in this specialist field.  It is a challenging project, however, we are delighted with the initial excellent results achieved.”

6 Passivhaus homes at Reed Walk, due for completion Summer 2015

Reed Walk is due for completion in August 2015 and will be the latest of 7 developments in Exeter designed and delivered by Gale & Snowden Architects as part of ECC's commitment to build all new homes to Passivhaus standard.  Together with sites at Brookway and Bennett Square, this current wave of development will provide 20 new 3-bedroom homes for Exeter.

A similar Passivhaus development for ECC by Gale & Snowden at Brookway, Exeter, currently nearing completion

Large, triple-glazed windows and doors to the South will provide beneficial solar gain for the houses and access to private gardens.  Brookway, Exeter.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Gale & Snowden in @theCIOB Magazine!

Gale & Snowden Architects has appeared in January's Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) online Magazine, Construction Manager.

The article, 'Going green in 2015? Here's what you might need', written by Katie Puckett, discusses specifying sustainable materials within new builds, a circular economy 'in which everything is reused or recycled', and the 'growing "healthy buildings" movement' and newly-formed Building Biology Association, recently set up by Gale & Snowden - further information can be found here. Director David Gale quotes:

“We have strict criteria when selecting materials, based on building biology principles...we’re looking for healthy materials that work dynamically with the building.”

A clean, healthy palette of materials at Gale & Snowden's Duchy Square, Princetown, Devon

David is also quoted in a second article, '10 products we'll be seeing more of this year...', also by Katie Puckett:
“In the right circumstances you don’t need insulation in the long as the rest of the building is compact, well-insulated and is possible to build a Passivhaus block of flats with just clay brick walls – rendered each side and that’s it. We need to move away from cavity wall construction.”

Friday, 13 February 2015

Gale & Snowden Architects in the North Devon Journal

Gale & Snowden Architects have appeared in their Bideford office's local newspaper, the North Devon Journal. 

The article, below, was published in last Thursday's edition (February 5th 2015), referring to Exeter City Council's recent announcement of the winning team for the new Leisure and Swimming Pool building proposed for the Centre of Exeter.

Gale & Snowden has formed part of the winning design consortium which is lead by Olympic pool designers, AFLS+P Architects, with ARUP Engineers and Exeter-based LDA Design, Planners and Landscape Design.

Article from the North Devon Journal, February 5th 2015

"As nationally recognised experts in low energy and healthy building design, we will be leading the project in these areas including providing Passivhaus and Building Biology Certified Consultancy."
 - David Gale, Director

The winning team, from left to right:

Peter Simpson – Director, AFLS+P
David Twiss – Associate Director, ARUP
Jason Fitzsimmons – Associate Engineer,  Gale & Snowden Architects & Engineers
Florence Collier – Mechanical Assistance and Passivhaus Liaison, ARUP
Nic Bryant – Architect, AFLS+P
David Gale  – Director,  G&S Gale & Snowden Architects & Engineers
Mark Thomas – Associate Director, AFLS+P
Tomas Gartner – Director, Gale & Snowden Architects & Engineers