The House in the Forest designed by El Fil Verd is a remarkable example of a passive house that benefits from natural materials, ultra-efficiency and an all-natural pool, without sacrificing views of the surrounding Garraf Natural Park on the coast south of Barcelona.
Architect Elisabetta Quarta Colosso from El Fil Verd Estudi addressed the placement of the home to maintain the picturesque views from every room, while making the most of passive design. To achieve this, she placed large windows on the south side, backed with a wall that is painted black for heat control and a manually-controlled venting system that pulls air in and out as needed. A small, wood-burning stove warms the space during sunless winter days, while natural ventilation cools during the hot summers.
The entire outside of the home is clad in cork panels, which serve to further insulate the home and provide energy-efficiency, while blending into the natural environment. Inside the cork exterior, the team used aerated concrete blocks that are lightweight and made from sand and lime, but offer highly-effective insulative qualities. The blocks were treated with lime and silicate paints on the interior, rather than adding to construction costs by finishing the walls in an additional material.
The surrounding landscape is kept natural with native plants like olive trees, pines, mastic trees and palm hearts. Tree placement also offers natural shading from intense summer heat. Below the house, a natural pool overlooks the forest. It requires no chemicals since the water is naturally filtered through plants along the edge.
A rainwater collection system stores roof runoff in a collection tank. The water is then used for watering the garden and supplementing the pond.
With manual systems for controlling the ventilation, highly efficient insulation and use of natural lighting, the energy consumption is low. However, the house is equipped with solar panels to cover those needs.
Images via Milena Villalba