Passive House Che in Romania sits in the midst of a beautiful forest and manages to be a model of a non-intrusive, modern green structure that is constantly in touch with nature.
Like all true children of the wild, this one never completely cuts off the umbilical cord. It stands in the middle of a picture postcard forest setting of Suceava in Romania, and eschews unnecessary doors or enclosures so as to be constantly in touch with the elements.
This flamboyant embrace of the forest is not without grave risks in the oppressively chilly environs of Romania, but Passive House Che not only manages to achieve its goal of connectedness with its surroundings, but does so while looking great and with solid green credentials to boot.
Realised by Bucharest-based Tecto Arhitectura, this home is a two-storied unit that has its fulcrum at its inner courtyard; on the outside, it has the sturdy, calm demeanour of an unflappable hermit. Its façade is an intermittent play of swathes of dark glass, bulwarked by slats of cedar on the ends, a combination that is guaranteed to never stand out garishly in the forest setting.
The central block of the whole structure is entirely glazed and affords glorious side-long views from the leisure areas. The hulking form of the building undulates slightly, to match the topography of the site. Colour is decidedly missing on the exterior; this luckily enough leaves room for impetuous shadows and reflections to become its attributes.
The house’s most strident wall system is just its encasing, as its insides are glorious breathing spaces with minimal closings and an almost uninterrupted communion with nature afforded by the glazed surfaces. This home is for true nature-lovers, who can’t bear to miss a second of the ever-changing beauty of nature around them. On the ground floor, only the toilet and the technical room have doors.
The provision of heat is the most important energy investment of this house, and the set-up for it also critical to the Passive House, Che’s green identity. “According to preliminary PHPP calculations, the estimated energy demanded for heating and hot water is lower than 14 kwh/sq m in a year,” states the design team.
The glazed surfaces let in an abundance of natural light and heat. Backing up this natural largesse is the use of natural insulation materials, the extensive use of wood, a strategically-shaped green roof and high-performance windows.
There is also a resource management system for electricity and heat supply in place. The green roof also rehabilitates the vegetation that had to be removed during the home’s construction. Photovoltaic panels will be laid out on the roof subsequently.
Any gaps in the natural heating scheme are filled by a ground water power heat pump. All the hot water for the household is channelled through solar thermal collectors and a heat buffer tank.
Passive House Che is a family home that has been built on a foundation of natural solidity. It isn’t interested in any flashiness or pizzazz, except for what its forested surroundings can muster. Its efficient energy scheme proves that it is possible to build something basic, fairly large and eminently habitable without distressing natural settings.
As the home’s interior layout displays, an inward-outward policy needn’t mean an unwieldy collection of rooms, but that it can also include fun elements like a huge netted lounge that gives the impression of being outdoors while still being indoors. A green structure that looks and feels good is not only a golden combination but is a setting down of a fine example as well.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Architect