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Marraum Architects23-Nov-2022 13:16:422 min read


What is a fabric first approach to building design?

‘Fabric first’ is an architectural design concept that’s steadily picking up traction in the modern homebuilding world. Even before energy prices began their rapid rise, homebuilders and architects have been increasingly interested in reducing UK homes’ reliance on heating.

The fabric first approach is what makes this possible. The advantages are twofold: a more sustainable home that’s more affordable to heat during the colder months.


What does ‘fabric first’ mean?

The principle of a fabric first home is present in its name. The materials used in the home’s construction are considered first, even before any heating appliances are brought into play.

Fabric first homes are designed to limit the need for heating first and foremost, resulting in lower carbon emissions and lower energy bills.

The majority of contemporary homes implement a fabric first approach in some way, and in the years to come it’s likely to be adopted as a standard practice in newbuild construction across the board. Especially amidst rising energy costs, it’s a great way of planning for architecture design success.


How can a fabric first approach be implemented?

So, what design choices make this approach possible?

Fabric first homes should have good insulation, strategically placed windows and be airtight – all achieved through a well-optimised build.

In the ‘perfect’ fabric first home, the heat given off by household appliances such as toasters, fridges and electronic devices should be enough to keep the building at a comfortable temperature. Having well-placed sun traps can also contribute to warming the home.

This isn’t always achievable, of course, but implementing these features with even partial success can result in a lower reliance on dedicated heating methods.


Wouldn’t more insulation make the building too warm in the summer?

This may sound great on paper, but what happens during the summer months when heat is undesirable?

This is where the strategic use of windows, doors and other openings comes into play. Optimal ventilation is key; allowing air to circulate throughout the home effectively is just as important as keeping unwanted cold air out.

If a home’s ventilation is suboptimal despite it being well-insulated, airtight and built to maximise solar gain, overheating can be a real issue. That’s why a true fabric first approach is built not just for extreme cold, but uncomfortable heat as well through good ventilation.


Build a sustainable newbuild home with Marraum’s architects

At Marraum, our approach to newbuilds is to create sustainable living spaces that enhance the lives of their occupants.

The fabric first approach is one such method we are passionate about, so if you’re considering crafting a space that harmonises with its environment and doesn’t rely so heavily on heating, we’d love to hear from you 

Find out more about our process, learn about our industry-leading architectural VR or get in touch today to arrange a call.


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