Sustainable House Makes Food, Not Waste

October 19, 2015

Sustainable Greenhouse Barn

Take an old Swedish barn and remake it into a gorgeous low-impact greenhouse where people and plants thrive together in harmony. That’s what Tailor Made Arkitekter of Gothenburg, Sweden did recently.

Located on the edge of Lake Vättern in southern Sweden, the Uppgrenna Nature House blends contemporary design with traditional Swedish architecture. The building’s gabled shape, simple doors, and earthy red-painted cladding on the structure’s lower half evoke Swedish barns and houses, while the insulating glass shell atop and timber lined interior design are of a more modern aesthetic.

 Also see: Barndominium kits

NaturhausAccording to Inhabitat, the structure is modeled on the Naturhus, an energy-efficient house-within-a-greenhouse concept developed by Swedish architect Bengt Warne. Built in Stockholm in 1976, the living area of Warne’s house is enclosed by a shell of glass. It is largely self-sustaining and uses all of nature’s elements — earth, water, air and fire — to meet the needs of the residents.

Composting toilets are utilized, and kitchen and garden waste are composted as well. Rainwater is collected and used for bathing, dish washing and laundry. It is then returned to nature as irrigation for the plants that clean and enrich the air inside the home.

Warne’s creation also incorporates active and passive solar elements. As the sun warms the air in the living area, it creates air currents that circulate freely within the house. Solar warmth from the greenhouse is stored in the bedrock below the house. A high-efficiency stove keeps the house warm in times of extreme cold.

Building on the sustainable living concepts pioneered by the Natuhaus, the repurposed barn on Lake Vättern is a greenhouse, spa, and conference building that grows food sustainably with a closed-loop water recycling system.

The upper Mediterranean climate greenhouse occupies nearly half the building footprint and contains large planting beds for fruits, flowers, and vegetables, a small pond with a waterfall, and a variety of citrus trees. The lower levels house the dining and meeting facilities, spa treatment rooms, and guest bedrooms.

“The vision is to make a self-sustainable house that produces food, instead of waste,” said lead architect Frederik Olson. “Living in a greenhouse encourages a sustainable and non-toxic lifestyle.” The Uppgrenna Nature House is not hooked up to a sewer system and reuses all of its graywater and blackwater as irrigation in a closed-loop system. Built primarily out of wood and other zero-VOC materials, the well-insulated building maintains a low energy footprint aided by passive solar and natural ventilation.

Sustainable Greenhouse Barn


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Stephen Hanley

lives in Rhode Island and writes about topics at the convergence of technology and ecology. You can follow him on Google + and Twitter.
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