One of the world’s most advanced and sustainable homes was completed in September 2014. Built by Snøhetta in association with The Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings, this home is a futuristic model to simple and sustainable living.
Based in Oslo, Norway and New York City, Snøhetta deals with international architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and brand design.
The firm recently partnered with ZEB (The Research Center on Zero Emission Buildings) to build the ‘ZEB Multi-Comfort House’. Built as a single family home, this structure is intended to serve as a working model “to facilitate learning on building methodology for houses with integrated sustainable solutions.”
So what’s so special about this house? At first glance, the design itself is head-turning. The dark roof appears to tilt towards the sky, reminding one of a plane about to take off.
The roof is covered with photovoltaic cells and solar collectors and the 19 degree angle of the roof allows the home to capture solar energy and store it for future use. “These elements, together with geothermal energy from energy wells in the ground, will serve the energy needs of the family house and generate enough surplus to power an electric car year-round!” says Team Snøhetta .
In the centre of the roof, a space has been carved out to allow light to stream down into an atrium, which in turn, provides excellent daylight throughout the house.
A fireplace and weather-friendly furniture in the atrium allows the space to be used for outdoor dining from early spring to late fall. On the eastern side, overlooking a neighbouring farmland, recycled timber blocks on a brick path are arranged in geometric shapes, making the space inviting enough to sit with a cup of tea or a book under the sun.
The garden has a swimming pool and shower which is heated by the surplus energy generated by the solar panels. The sauna is heated by firewood. The firewood storage lining the house provides other uses too – it acts as a privacy shield and provides an additional layer of insulation to the house as well.
What makes this “one of the worlds’s most advanced family houses”, though, is the scientific thought and planning that has gone into every corner of the house.
The home has been given ZEB-OM classification, which means that the structure has met or surpassed current codes for energy use, air quality and heat and warmth, among others. The house uses materials that produced no emissions during construction or during daily, post-construction operations. The house also includes an electrical vehicle with an annual range of 20,000 kilometres.
To achieve ZEB-OM classification, the project also had to document and prove a minimum of 100% CO2 offsetting.
The production of renewable energy through the photovoltaic panels enables offsetting of carbon emissions generated by the burning of fossil fuels in power stations. This leads to reduction in emission of other greenhouse gasses simultaneously.
The architects have successfully integrated the interiors and outdoors with large windows overlooking the pastoral views outside, the gardens and the pool.
The house is heated by under-floor heating and energy from the solar panels and also by one radiator on each floor. The boiler gets heated water from the solar collectors, an energy well and the water heat recovery system. The excess heat generated inside the house is also used to heat incoming air and water.
In this futuristic home, walls filled with firewood and timber add to its rustic appeal. Huge strides are being made in the field of sustainable architecture and if the design of this family home by Snøhetta is any indication, future homes have much to look forward to.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Architect