The sustainable design world is full of concepts for ultra-modern, eco-friendly homes of the future, but here is one that is already on the ground. It is architect Piotr Kuczia's lo-tech CO2 Saver, an imaginative and award-winning home on the shores of Lake Laka in Poland.
The home is designed to maximize passive solar gain, with nearly 80 percent of the lake house facing southward toward the sun. The north side openly relishes the beautiful vistas of Lake Laka. The exterior is very much a symmetrical structure with two long, rectangular wings acting as a sandwich for the taller, central, cube-like structure simply dubbed the "black box." The two sides use untreated, local larch wood for siding and both are equipped with a green roof.
The "black box" is the three-story central structure, covered in charcoal colored fiber-cement siding (to retain solar heat) and equipped with a pitched, south-facing roof which houses solar thermal collectors -- a solar photovoltaic system is planned for the near future.
The interior of the CO2 Saver, "according to function," is decidedly asymmetrical.
Attached to that is a set-in glazed patio, which Kuczia dubs the "winter garden," acting as a passive solar collector in winter, a place to relax apart from the elements, and a greenhouse. Inside, the CO2 Saver has concrete floors, which use their thermal mass to retain heat and ease heating loads. Of course the modern home is not all lo-tech, passive design.
The CO2 Saver not only blends into the lakeside landscape, it has some techie traits as well. Most notable are the intelligent building control systems and solar heating and ventilation, complete with built-in energy recovery. The CO2 Saver is a combination of modern design and low costs. It is carefully thought out but simple in design in order to save on construction costs and, according to the architect, did not cost any more to build than a conventional home in Poland.
Among it awards and nominations, the CO2 Saver was nominated as one of the Best Houses Worldwide by World Architecture News. It is creating quite a stir in Poland, winning the grand prize for Best Architecture of Silesia (a region of Poland) by the Union of Polish Architects, among other local accolades.
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