About Gresford Architects
Established in 2006, Gresford Architects is an Oxford-based company comprising a team of 10 individuals. The company specialises in low-energy design-oriented residential projects, focusing on the Passivhaus standard and its retrofit counterpart, Enerphit. The team believes that ultra-low energy design needn’t forsake good design and strives to integrate the two in all their projects.
The company ethos
The company’s ethos is to design beautiful, architecturally rigorous ultra-low energy houses. They believe architecture has to power to be transformative on an individual, social and environmental level and must constantly reconsider its aims and motivations in the light of the society in which it operates. Thus, the biggest challenge, at the moment, for architects is to address climate change, an exercise that Gresford Architects is uniquely well equipped to undertake.
The company specialises in residential projects but has also undertaken several commercial projects. The focus of the projects reflects the team’s passion for creating beautifully designed low-energy homes for their clients. In their experience working on ultra-low energy residences, the team has found these buildings are cheaper to run, significantly better for the planet than traditional housing, and healthier and more comfortable. After all, what could be better than the ultimate home that is comfortable, beautiful, and contributes positively to the wider society and environment?
The design process
Collaboration lies at the core of the services Gresford Architects offers its clients. With their extensive experience designing homes, the team has found that the most successful projects involve a strong and collaborative working relationship between the team and their clients and, ultimately, the teams of skilled labour and craftsmen that realise the ideas they develop. They believe there is always more than one way to approach a project and design. Hence, the process begins with developing alternative options for each project.
The project typically starts with the plan, as it drives all decisions. The plan is refined into a single idea to be sense checked against cost and environmental performance (often using the Passivhaus Planning Package – PHPP). The detailed technical design process only commences after planning permission is achieved. The architects develop the building fabric and the precise look, feel, and finish of the interior and exterior, working closely with interior designers to create a complete finish to every element of a home. They always encourage their clients to look at the spaces around the building, especially the garden and often work with landscape architects to develop them.
The architects love to oversee work on-site, continuing the process of collaboration that starts with the initial sketch options through working with the contractors on-site to implement all the ideas developed with the clients, ensuring the client’s vision is realised.
Gresford Architects defines its style as “design-led contemporary sustainability”. Their style is not traditional, classical, or vernacular. It is closer to the modernists of the 20th century but draws influences from other styles for developing projects. Their work addresses the most important social concern, the climate crisis, through their approach to form, building methods, functionality, and materials. Their signature style is unique to every project they undertake. They focus on implementing design principles and values rather than imposing a stylistic signature across every project.
Gresford Architects' signature project is the certified Passivhaus at Chieveley, which led them to understand the full benefits of Passivhaus, including its positive impact on its owners' health and well-being. The experience drove the company to develop its practice and work processes.
Awards and recognition
The company won the RIBA regional awards for two projects – Chieveley and The Deerings. They also won the National Building Control Award for Chieveley.
If given the possibility to choose, the team prefers to use three materials, namely wood, stone, and hemp, for an entire project.
Wood and stone are natural materials with enormous textural and sculptural potential and have almost limitless aesthetic and formal possibilities whilst also being contextual and vernacular. Moreover, using locally sourced wood and stone immediately ties the building to its landscape and context. Wood and stone also have very low carbon footprints if sourced locally. Stone is underused because of its expense, but wood can be very cost-effective and is a material that can be endlessly regrown, with practical use that also helps combat climate change by locking up carbon. If specified well, wood can last for hundreds of years and, with careful end-life management, can prevent it from releasing its stored carbon back into the atmosphere.
Hemp is a fast-growing carbon sink that can be used for numerous building elements, such as insulation, plaster, and cladding.
The team’s idea of a perfect home is one built from wood, stone, and hemp. When sourced locally, these three materials have almost limitless aesthetic and formal possibilities and have very low carbon footprints. They would be naturally hydroscopic and designed to the Passivhaus standard.
How to contact Gresford Architects
Prospective clients can email the company with an initial enquiry, with a brief description of what they wish to do. They can also contact the team by phone for an initial chat with any available representative. After the initial contact, the team aims to respond within 48 hours via email, typically to arrange a call via Zoom or Microsoft Teams to introduce themselves and discuss the project in more detail. Following this, a site visit would be arranged to meet the clients and see the project, based on which a proposal would be issued. The contact process works the same way when clients contact Gresford Architects using the homify platform.
Unit 1 Oxford Eco Centre, Roger House, Osney Mead
OX2 0ES Oxford, UK