Smack dab in the middle of Denmark on the island of Funen, you’ll find a sextet of innovative and low-impact prototype homes that each have a little something special going on in the carbon-reduction department.
Lendager Arkitekter’s Upcycle House, for example, sports post-pop champagne cork kitchen flooring, a roof made from recycled soda cans and a shipping container framework to help demonstrate the CO2-slashing benefits of building with reclaimed materials. Next door, Henning Larsen Architects’ Adaptable House is a compact modular dwelling that can be reconfigured throughout the years to accommodate several generations of a single family — no renovations or square footage-expanding overhauls needed. Equipped with an advanced energy-monitoring system, Pluskontoret Arkitekter's Quota House incorporates numerous smart home features to help its inhabitants understand — and save big on — their monthly energy expenditures. Leth & Gori’s Brick House is built to stand the test of time — 150 years or more, to be exact — thanks to solid construction using traditional building materials that are both beautiful and resilient.
And then there’s Arkitema Architects’ Maintenance-Free House, the low-fuss showstopper of developer Realdania Byg’s experimental Mini-C02 House community located in the suburban outskirts of Funen’s third largest city, Nyborg.
Designed and built as a companion piece to the Brick House (also referred to as the Traditional Maintenance-Free House), Maintenance-Free House is similarly designed and built to last more than 150 years with no servicing required during the first 50 years. Yes, this is a house that can go a whopping five decades without needing any significant maintenance work.
Unlike Brick House which was built from tried-and-true materials that have proven their longevity, the 1,679-square-foot Maintenance-Free House is built from “new” and innovative materials that are expected to have a long service life. With a striking, light-strewn design inspired by the traditional Danish longhouses favored by Vikings, the Maintenance-Free House, designed by Arkitema in cooperation with input from the Danish Technological Institute, was precision-built in a factory with high-strength plywood as the primarily building material. The home’s prefab components were then transported to Nyborg via truck and assembled on site in a couple of days using only screwdrivers.
Realdania Byg explains the key difference between the two Maintenance-Free homes:
... the goal was the same as in the brick house: to build a house that would last at least 150 years, with minimum demand for maintenance during the first 50 years. The challenge however, was of a very different nature, as the house was to be built of new and innovative materials that still have to prove their durability and reliability over time — or at the very least, the construction of the building had to be innovative.
Impossible you say?
Now for the the pièce de résistance: the entire four bedroom-bedroom structure, sharply pitched roof included, is enveloped by a protective “glass shield” made from recycled glass. The weatherproofing glass skin protects Maintenance-Free House from the rain and wind that may damage or deteriorate the plywood abode or otherwise impact its longevity. “The shield is one continuous surface, unbroken by vent pipes — again ensuring extended service life by avoiding leakage from joints,” explain the project architects.
Maintenance-Free House also enjoys additional protection from whatever Mother Nature throws at it thanks to its stilted nature. Raised about a foot of the ground on concrete pad foundations, the structure is kept safe from heavy rains and floods that might otherwise require, well, maintenance. And there's another clever reason behind the buffer between the home and the ground.
Realdania Byg explains:
The wooden structure also had to be adequately ventilated in order to keep it dry, which is why the house is lifted half a meter off the ground on stilts of concrete and why there is a gap between the plywood structure and the glass skin. The gap creates a natural chimney effect, sucking in air at the bottom and letting it out at the top of the roof. No complicated mechanical ventilation system is needed — natural forces are at work here.
Similar to the other sustainable single-family dwellings that make up Realdania BYG's Mini-CO2 House micro-neighborhood in Nyborg — there's also the Mini-CO2 Standard House, a residence that takes all the best carbon-cutting aspects of the aforementioned five homes and incorporates them into one neat, commercially viable package — the Maintenance-Free House will eventually be sold to one very lucky private buyer when the project wraps up.
No word if the home will be sold with a 150-year supply of Windex.
Related on MNN: