When Benjamin and Ingrid Hjertefølger first caught site of a nature house designed by eco-architect Bengt Warnes, they knew instantly that this was the kind of home they wanted to build for themselves. Their corn cob house topped with a solar dome crown is warm in winter, cool in summer, well-ventilated, and it has a negligible environmental footprint. Best of all, it's relatively easy for the family to build the home by themselves on the Sandhornøya island of northern Norway.
Ardent followers of permaculture, the couple and their three children are lucky to be surrounded by a host of like-minded families who often come by to help with the building. They are also vegetarians, so it was important for them to find a way to be self-sufficient all year despite their northerly latitude. As a result, they have built a small greenhouse that is irrigated using waste water treated by plants and sand in the greenhouse. They can even grow tropical fruits!
The basement was constructed using Leca – lightweight bricks of extruded clay. A system of long buried pipes leading down to the beach bring fresh air into the home. Since the temperature of the earth is constant, these pipes bring in warm air during winter and cool air during the summertime. Vents at the base of the house, mid-level windows and windows near the roof ensure that the air circulates at all times. Plus, the glass dome ensures that very little maintenance will be required during winter months.
“It is truly wonderful to work “inside” on our house,” Ingrid told Inhabitat. “We have quite a lot of wind and rain here, so coming in to the glass dome is such a pleasure! You still feel like you are outside, but the air is still, and we are dry even when it rains. It is fascinating to see the rain flow in a large curve around us. Every time the weather is bad I know why we did this.”