Godwit House

Overlooking the Coquet estuary in Warkworth Northumberland, the certified Passivhaus - Godwit House - responds to both place and client.

Built on a brownfield site on the edge of Warkworth the design maximises views and daylight. It is also respectful and a friendly neighbour to the existing houses.

Ground floor bedrooms and study are clustered around a courtyard garden helping to create an intimate setting. In contrast, the upper floor is a large living, kitchen and dining space which celebrates the long expansive views across the estuary with splayed and corner windows.  Access to a large terrace overlooking the courtyard continues the inside outside living. The layout responds to the clients’ passions and needs allowing for activities such as music recitals whilst future-proofing the house for long term living.

This careful consideration to the client’s brief is further captured by creating places throughout the house to display her collections of objects picked up throughout her life’s work and travel.

The form and materials of the house draw influence from the agricultural structures found locally, this coupled with crisp detailing gives a familiar yet contemporary approach to the design.

The clients (and our) passion for sustainable living manifests itself in the choice of materials with low embodied carbon and the use of very little energy to heat the house. Electricity is generated by the PV array on the roof which runs the ground source heat pump and the EV charger. The project increases local biodiversity, with a green roof, rainwater harvesting and two ponds to accommodate visiting wildlife.

The house is fabricated from factory built timber cassettes filled with wood fibre insulation. It minimises the use of concrete and uses no structural steel. All helping to achieved exceptional airtightness and thermal performance.

The design, attention to detail and the newly learnt skills of the contractors local to Warkworth enabled Godwit house to be a certified Passivhaus, the most northerly in England.

This project raises environmental construction standards in the region and beyond. More importantly creates a comfortable and pleasurable home for the client, with a cracking view.

Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus



Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus


Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus



Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus



Mawson Kerr Godwit House Passivhaus

Oak Tree Passivhaus

Design and Delivery: MawsonKerr with Richard Pender

Oak Tree Passivhaus is an exemplar in  low energy residential architecture, innovative in both the process and the finished building which, in the words of the client is a delight to live in.’ It is also the first Certified Passivhaus in Tyneside thus combining ‘delight’ with robustness in design and delivery.

Sited on a steep slope with mine workings beneath, bedrock, ground gas, and TPO trees, the scheme overcame these difficult constraints with a layout that captures long views across the Derwent Valley and framed views of the nearby protected oak tree.

High ceilings and large format windows allow for a great quality of daylight and a sense of airiness. Utilising the sloping ground the main entrance is to the Upper ground floor which accommodates the open plan living spaces and a bedroom/shower with the remaining bedrooms on the lower ground floor.  This configuration allows the client to live solely on the upper floor if needed, future proofing for any eventuality.

A twin timber frame was designed for the main Passivhaus structure, filled with a large thickness of insulation with minimal thermal bridging. Insulation and lining materials were chosen to ensure a “breathable” construction, promoting longevity and a healthy environment.

Local and low embodied carbon materials were chosen, such as Larch cladding from the Scottish Borders and stone gabions from the site bedrock. The only steel in the building was use in the slender fins that hang the balcony from the overhanging roof whilst also supporting the timber solar shading. This accumulates in the total embodied carbon being lower than the RIBA Climate-Challenge target for 2030.


RIBA North East – Shortlisted
Construction Excellence NE – Sustainability Commendation

Greenbank House

Design and Delivery: MawsonKerr with Richard Pender

Greenbank House is located in a Northumberland village with expansive views across the Tyne Valley.  It takes its design cues from the surrounding red brick houses of the area and replaces the dilapidated building that was previously on the site.  Bedrooms are located on the ground floor with the vaulted living spaces making best use of the views across the valley on the first floor. The house is a super insulated timber frame with great airtightness and low energy use.  It uses an MVHR,  ground source heat pumps and solar panels.

The house reuses the slate from the previous building and part of the brick is also utilised in the design.   Design of home was futureproofed for the retired couple who live there with bathrooms and bedrooms on the ground floor and the ability for the utility to work as a second kitchen along with an access lift to the first floor.




















Greystone Grange House

Situated in the countryside of Stockton – on – Tees, the client required a respectful low energy family dwelling for the future, consisting of a full retrofit of their existing home and extension to the rear on both ground and first floors. The architectural approach is sensitive, building on the existing palette of materials by using brick with a modern twist, choosing an elongated profile to provide a contemporary feel. The connection with the garden was also important, so large openings were created throughout the design to encourage the transversal between inside and out.  Internally, on the ground floor, large open plan living spaces were created to bring family and friends together, whilst on the first floor, bedrooms are spread out to give each family member their own space. To the north east, a connected annex hosts quarters for the clients parents, future proofing the home for intergenerational living.

Creating a more sustainable home was also close to the clients and our hearts, therefore, it was decided to retain the existing house and retrofit this with cavity insulation and high performance windows. Meanwhile, the new rear extension uses highly insulated pre-assembled timber frame cassettes, coupled with a quality air tight layer and mechanical ventilation heat recovery system throughout to reduce heating demand, improve air quality and comfort. The rear canopy was designed with thermal comfort in mind, providing solar shading when the sun is at its highest and hottest whilst letting sunlight deep into the plan in early and late parts of the day to passively heat the home.

Greystone Grange MawsonKerr


Greystone Grange MawsonKerr


Greystone Grange MawsonKerr


Greystone Grange MawsonKerr


Greystone Grange MawsonKerr


Greystone Grange MawsonKerr


Greystone Grange MawsonKerr


Greystone Grange MawsonKerrGreystone Grange MawsonKerr

Swallowship House

This Northumberland rural house replaces a dilapidated sawmill and tractor shed in the Hexham Green Belt. Swallowship House is sensitive to its surroundings by being single storey, lying low within the existing tree line. By embedding itself physically within the landscape a subtle response has been created blending in with the local vernacular whilst encouraging direct access to nature from anywhere within the dwelling.

Swallowship is a paragraph 80 house meaning it meets the stringent exceptional design requirements set out in planning terms in order to gain approval within an isolated setting . Additionally the single storey proposal  will be a low carbon construction. A timber frame is clad with timber with a rhythm which is kept consistent around the elevations. This can be read internally with additional internal reference in the scissor truss. There are areas of timber panelling complemented by a muted palette of materials create a calming environment.








Our design breaks the home into three distinctive vaulted volumes each housing a different function. Swallowship has a living wing, a bedroom wing and in the centre a wing which houses the services and private spaces. Expansive views of the surrounding landscape are framed with specifically located fenestration to make the most of these opportunities. Vistas are also created looking through the entire building. From the entrance a view cuts across the three volumes to a large framed window.

Motifs from the existing sawmill are reinterpreted to respect and illuminate the sites history inside and out. Furthermore the existing barn outline being expressed internally with crossed trusses which silhouette the existing form. Swallowship House achieves a low energy heating demand through a fabric first approach. Benefitting from high airtightness, MVHR and insulation, alongside renewable energy sources including photovoltaics and ground source heat pump culminating in a sustainable three-bedroom home.

The landscaped area around the house completes the transition into the Northumberland surroundings. Swallowship will be on site in mid 2024 the project due for completion in 2025.








Rectory Road

Located in Gosforth Conservation Area in Newcastle our Rectory Road contemporary extension to an early twentieth century semi detached house enables the young family modern, flexible living spaces.  The composition reflects the roofline and pitch of the existing and allows for a lower eaves adjacent to the neighbour, interlocking the existing house without dominating it. Large openings to the ground and first floor bring the garden into the house, and a raised terrace allows a continuous connection between interior and exterior living areas.

The contrasting finish to the extension gives clear delineation between old and new and is bold contemporary extension clad in dark stained timber throughout aided by the crisp detailing to the window openings and outline of the extension.












Lodge House, Gosforth

Located in a conservation area the design drivers of the extension and refurbishment of a dilapidated stone lodge were to preserve the unique character of the lodge whilst providing modern living for the client and a sense of space. The extension is of unique character and unashamedly contemporary whilst still respecting the context. The extension provides a large cooking, eating and entertaining space and an additional bedroom and rationalises previous substandard additions to the lodge.

The natural materials of the zinc roof and the stained rough sawn blackened timber cladding compliments the natural stone and slate of the existing lodge. The asymmetrically nature of the extension roof allows for volumetric interest internally and for North light to penetrate the space, reducing overheating and glare.

Mill Lodge, Dalton

Set into a steep embankment our proposal for the reconfigured house in Dalton, Northumberland, created a new plateau for the home to sit on by burying the garage, music room and other ancillary spaces on a semi subterranean floor. In doing this the upper two floors are rewarded with expansive  views of the south facing natural gorge.

Using locally sourced natural materials in stone and slate, which suited the historic surroundings, we have introduced modern details with overhanging eaves and large glazed openings where possible to blend old and new in this contemporary home. Incorporating borehole groundwater source heating and PV panels we aimed to optimise the energy use.










Plinth House, Northumberland

Plinth House is located within the existing sunken walled garden of a Victorian Manor House. The proposal is for a highly contextual and contemporary home, providing a sensitive response to the setting of this Country pile, its grounds, and the openness of the Greenbelt area. The house has two main elements the 'plinth' wrapping around the garden and the 'pavilion' sitting on top of the plinth. The design allows for the intimate views, tranquility and the connection with the outside – the 'Plinth'. Long views across the valley, openness and connection to the upper entrance level - the 'Pavilion'.

The design in effect creates a cloister that sits within the existing parameters of the sunken garden and reaches out into the garden. Part of the cloister is glazed and therefore creating the internal spaces and part external with the outdoor kitchen and South facing sitting area.

Our approach has been to integrate off-grid and environmental technologies that are unobtrusive to the house' functionality. The major features to allow the house to have low energy and carbon strategies are: embedded solar to the roof of the pavilion, ground source heat in the walled garden and battery technology coupled with super insulation and airtightness to enable an off grid dwelling.

Cantilever House

We are appointed to create a new housing model which can be arranged and adaptable to suit multiple locations across a steeply sloping rural site, providing multiple living conditions within the same structural framework.

County Durham has many sites of significant terrain, which can present issues to standard housing types but here we made this situation an opportunity for the cantilever living space. The design has sleeping accommodation embedded into the site in the lower ground floor area which in itself becomes a plinth for the larger accommodation block above to soar over. Designed as a timber frame solution, the upper block can be arranged with several bedroom options, larger vaulted living space and a number of cladding alternatives giving a variety of outcomes.

The palette of external materials in this self build development keeps to a rural and natural temperament, this has been driven with a strong sustainable agenda. The palette relates strongly to vernacular architecture giving connection within the area and an indication of availability both locally and naturally. The material palette we are suggesting for the scheme includes natural stone, timber cladding and glass maximising daylight.

Jesmond House as seen on Channel 4

Working in collaboration with Zac Monro we designed (co-authors with Zac) and delivered this high profile project which was aired Channel 4 Inside Out Homes.

The brief was to connect, both physically and visually, the large semi-detached home with the garden and provide a high quality kitchen, dining and family space, within the existing house and a single storey extension. The extension is unashamedly modern and bold with huge sliding doors and chrome coated fin columns. A large slit rooflight allows for natural light to penetrate the existing house and the open plan helps create an airy space.

The studio garden is a vis a vis of the extension but in a thin profile timber cladding which seamlessly wraps the rest of the garden. Using high end materials and careful detailing the quality of the finished project has prevailed.

More can be found out about the project and the suppliers on this link:




Back High Street Mixed Use Scheme

Back High Street is a tight historic alley through the Gosforth conservation area of Newcastle characterised in recent history for the small industrial units nestled in the tight urban grain. Several had become vacant over time with an opportunity for redevelopment.

Our scheme unlocks the site with a new three floor block for multiple uses. A single five bedroom courtyard house has been created with passive house aspirations, rooftop productive garden and its own private access. This sits back to back with a block comprising office on the ground floor and two floors of assisted living apartments. This fronts onto the Back High Street giving the street enhanced frontage. The material palette has been developed giving a distinctive urban character that we hoped complements the neighbouring context.