This small prefab studio in Spain is a great example of what passive design can achieve. Barcelona-based DOM Arquitectura thoroughly studied the impact that orientation, geometry and materials can have on the performance of a house and created an efficient passive structure with an extremely low ecological footprint. They included a low-cost rainwater harvesting system, a small kitchen garden, solar panels and prefab elements made from locally-sourced and reusable materials.
The house, placed on a south oriented steep slope, is rectangular in plan with the longer side oriented south with the largest openings that capture sunlight during the winter months and overhangs that prevent direct radiation during hot summer days. The other three elevations are opaque, with a few openings on the northern facade.
The construction process was based on prefabricated timber components made from locally-sourced red pine wood pre-measured and assembled on site. The interior finishes are made in a three-layered plywood with pine finish, and the exterior finishes in autoclaved treated fir wood. Low thermal transmittance window frames and thermal insulation, the latter of which wraps around the whole construction, prevent heat losses during winter and gains during summer.
The architects introduced a small kitchen garden that gives residents greater self-sufficiency. It was planted in a flat extension attached to the house. Solar panels produce energy that reduces consumption from the grid, while seven water tanks placed underneath the house can store up to 10 cubic meters of rainwater collected from the roof and exterior pavements. The water is used to irrigate the lawns and kitchen garden.
Photos by Jordi Anguera