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Jelle Gressens Architect

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Project name: Villa Savoye upgraded?

Overall concept

Nearly nine decades ago, during a presentation of the Weißenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart, the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier formulated his architectural concept in ‘5 Points’ (five points of a new architecture) :

  • Les Pilotis (the pillars)
  • Le toit jardin (the roof garden)
  • Le façade libre (the free facade)
  • La fenêtre en longeur (the horizontal window)
  • Le plan libre (the free plan)

The synthesis of this five points : the house as a machine for living, at best illustrated in Villa Savoye at Poissy (France), is becoming a contemporary topic again for an internationally acknowledged standard for sustainable architecture, represented by the Passive House. If we assume a future, where architecture will be dominated by building physicist, who look at buildings through thermal goggles, buildings could be emphasised as (sustainable) flows of energy, rather than their physical appearance.
The overall concept for the design proposal is an upgraded version of Villa Savoye, according to the principles of Trias Energetica, a simple and logical concept that helps to achieve energy savings, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and save the environment :
1. Reduce the demand for energy by avoiding waste and implementing energy-saving measures
2. Use sustainable sources of energy like wind, the sun, water and the ground
3. Use fossil fuel energy as efficiently as possible and only if sustainable sources of energy are unavailable
(4) In addition, try to compensate the damage you do to the environment by compensating your pollution with doing things like planting trees.
The project actively engages in the debate : “Can the house of the future become a fusion between the modernistic idea of an architectural exterior which satisfies functional needs on the inside, and a sustainable way of living?”

Lozen is a suburban mountain village in between Sofia in the north-west and a mountainous area in the south. Because most of the village is situated on a higher level, it should be possible to draw views from the capital, as well from the mountains from the inside of the house. To combine passive solar heat gain (mainly coming from the south and west) in combination with these visual relationships, the orientation of the North arrow has been chosen to aim towards the upper right corner and the house is situated on the right setback line of the building site. The front facade is angled to create a continuous urban line with the fronts of the houses on the left and right side.

Les pilotis
The house has a minimal footprint because the second floor rises on the extensive side. Therefore a large part of the plot can be used, for instance, to grow vegetables, plant trees, a geothermal heat exchanger, rainwater tanks and reed-lands to collect, clean and reuse water coming from the house.

Le toit jardin
The extension of the second floor can be (partially) used as a green-roof, to keep up rainwater, and also as a terrace for the bedrooms. At the same time the extension functions as a canopy for the living rooms on the ground floor (south, south-west oriented), creating enough shade during summer (when then sun stands higher) which prevents the building from overheating, but still letting in enough sun during winter (when the sun stands lower) from which the building will benefit passive use of solar energy. Additionally , solar and PV panels can be installed on the top roof.

Le façade libre
The extension of the second floor will be wrapped with a perforated screen, separated from the insulated volume, filtering sunlight for the bedrooms and study area (which are situated on the east and west side). In combination with the overhanging floor and mechanical ventilation, this element offers enough natural cooling during warm periods, so additional cooling techniques aren’t necessary. The screen will be made from bamboo, which is strong enough to function as parapets for the terraces.

La fenêtre en longeur
Large windows are oriented wisely so interesting views are combined with passive solar heat gain. The windows are as little as possible sub-divided, which increases their insulation value.

Le plan libre
The insulated volume is very compact (A/V = 0,75) and has an open plan. The load bearing elements are limited to the building shell and a functional core. The house can be arranged according to the needs of the users (ground floor and second floor can switch functions, extra bedrooms can be added, dwelling can be separated) and adapted afterwards without heavy construction works, which have a serious environmental impact.

The building consists mainly of bio-ecological materials, such as a FSC timber frame, wood-fibre and cellulose insulation, wood and linoleum floors. Details between the insulated walls with the interior floor and green-roof / terrace outside will be executed as thermal break elements, according to the ‘balloon frame’ method, with insulated I-joists and service cavities on the inside of the building shell. This thermal bridge free construction is relatively easy to build for a two storey house. Therefore results after execution, will be quiet similar to the theoretical passive house calculations made in advance.