Barnet Council has given planning permission for a new timber-beamed Finchley Reform Synagogue which will include a community centre and nursery for 60 children around a sheltered first-floor garden.
Architects celebrated the council’s green light for their low-carbon Passivhaus design, which follows German construction principles to minimise energy consumption for heating and cooling. When it is built, it will be one of the first Passivhaus places of worship in the UK.
Designers at de Metz Forbes Knight Architects (dMFK) say the shul takes inspiration from the ECO Synagogue initiative and will incorporate a four-metre high prayer hall along with community-focused public areas.
The building will be so adept at retaining heat from the sun and human bodies that near-zero heating will be required, while it will avoid the need for air conditioning by using below-ground labyrinth technologies to cool the air into the building.
Inside there will be a pebble-dash floor and large windows, with interior finishes comprising rammed earth, exposed cross laminated timber and “moments of finely designed joinery”.
The firm’s director Julian de Metz said the design “balances worship and spirituality with highly practical community functions,” adding: “We are lucky to be being pushed by this progressive community to go above and beyond current standards in making a low energy and ambitious building.”