Christies Care Office Building 

Saxmundham, Suffolk

Christies Care arranges live-in home care for a wide range of people throughout the UK. Our brief was for a new office building to house about 60 people, next to their existing buildings on the edge of Saxmundham in Suffolk. The decision was taken to focus on two aspects of greenness: in the selection of materials and energy economy, targeting an EPC 'A' rating, and following Passivhaus principles.

The building is a simple two-storey box with a pitched roof. The long axis runs north-south, so that the windows along its side walls face east and west. The deeper and more open offices are on the west side, so the windows are larger there than on the east.

Wet services are at the north end and on the south there is a generous glazed screen to the café, with a deep canopy to protect it from summer sun. Above it, at high level in the gable is a circular window. This will allow sunshine to track across the open office on the first floor, and is actuator-operated to help purge hot air in summer.

We’ve been in our new offices for over three months now and the pleasure of admiring it and walking inside every morning to work is as strong as our first day just before Christmas. Our team are happier and more productive.
Freddy Gathorne-Hardy, Managing Director, Christies Care

Choice of materials

The entire superstructure of the building, including the external walls, is of timber – CLT combined with glulam columns and beams. This calculated to sequester 180 tonnes of carbon, which in terms of embodied energy, much more than offsets the transport from Austria. The external wall cladding is also of acetylated timber (Accoya), which uses a timber which would otherwise be unusable for construction.

Energy performance

The building achieved an EPC ‘A’ rating and the design generally followed Passivhaus principles, but without the rigour and expense of certification. This meant that a standby l.p.h.w heating system could be installed, partly for psychological reasons and partly to deal with cold mornings. The building achieved an air leakage rate of 1m3/hr/m2 at its first testing – testimony to the form of construction and a careful contractor. The main ventilation is through a centralised mechanical system, using a Passivhaus approved heat-recovering AHU. On the upper floor displacement ventilation is delivered through floor grilles. The windows are generally opening to give improved ventilation in temperate conditions.

A great team...made the whole process a pleasure. Started on time and finished on time, we couldn’t ask for anything more.
Freddy Gathorne-Hardy, Managing Director, Christies Care

Our Team

  • Joanna Day
  • Nicholas Hare
  • Beatriz Martin de Alcaraz
  • Sandra Toledano

Project Team

  • Client: Christies Care
  • Cost Planning: Bremner Partnership
  • Structural Engineer: Integral Engineering Design
  • Services Engineer: Couch Perry Wilkes
  • Fire Engineer: Ashton Consulting
  • Contractor: SHE French
  • Photography: Alan Williams


  • Winner: RIBA Suffolk Craftsmanship Award - Best New Large Building
  • Finalist: LABC East Anglia Building Excellence Awards - Best Public Service Building
  • Shortlisted: RICS Awards - Commercial Building