Earthwise Construction was appointed as main contractor to carry out the demolition of a single story shop on the high street in Westbury on Trym in Bristol and construction of a new two storey Passive House Certified creative art space and cafe called Goldfinch Create and Play.

The build involved digging down the site and the installation of a new super insulated raft foundation system. On top of this we then built the timber frame superstructure which was constructed using timber I joists.

The Passive House Standard has a very strict airtightness requirement of 0.6 ACH@50Pa and we are very proud that we achieved 0.43 ACH@50Pa in our final test result.

The project has been certified by the Passive House institute and as far as we are aware it is the first of its kind cafe building in the U.K to achieve certification.

Goldfinch Create and Play in Westbury on Trym in Bristol - view from the street


The main challenge to this build was the access as the site for Goldfinch Create and Play was on a busy high street and although we had a site compound all materials had to be dropped of on the road and brought into the site by hand. The installation of the 6m wide triple glazed sliding doors, involved us having to close the road on a Sunday and set a crane up in the middle of the road and then carefully lower the sliding doors between the gap in the scaffolding and the new building.

In addition early on in the design process we realised that due to the close proximity of the neighbours rear boundary wall, we would not be able to construct the building as the architect had envisaged, so working together we came up with an innovative panelised system which we built on site, so the panels were completely finished and no access was needed to finish this section of the building.

Materials used

  • Triple glazed windows and doors
  • Two Zehnder CAQ600 MVHR systems (Designed & Installed by Earthwise Construction)
  • Solar P.V
  • Air source heat pump
  • Warmcell recycled newspaper
  • Woodfibre insulation
  • Pro Clima Airtightness tapes and membranes

Earthwise Construction was an absolute pleasure to work with, from the projects inception and early discussions around how we would achieve our vision of creating a PassivHaus art cafe that would encompass our values and intentions in terms of our commitment to the environment. Ben and his team delivered much more than expected, if issues arose, they would be part of problem solving, coming up with solutions as a team. The joinery was executed just as we had envisioned, with beautiful detailing and work precision. The site team, managed by Bruin, were incredibly capable and also really friendly and positive about their work.

Nicole Strong, Founder of Goldfinch Create and Play