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TWO.OFFICE.ARCHITECTURE Ricardo Reis and Sofia Gaspa

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The goals
Bjarke Ingles said: “Sustainability is not how much of our quality of life we are prepared to sacrifice in order to afford to be sustainable. We should look to sustainability as an opportunity to increase quality life”. This is the aim which impulse us to participate in this competition, in order to pick up all the constraints of the Passive House demands, and transform them in order to create an affordable, comfortable and innovative house in the location of Lozen.
Our first doubt was which kind of house should we do: a traditional house, a contemporary house, a house for the future, a real one or an abstract house. With all these questions on the table it came to us this amazing sentence that is, almost, a ghost in our heads for quite along: Why choose one if we can have both. This became the motto for the project, our aim to try to go further and create a house able to respond to different points of views, create different types of space, able to respect the past, be actual in the present time and open doors for the future.

The form
When we think about sustainability, we automatically think about compact-form in order to reduce the surfaces to isolate and to simplify the volume. Apart to the sphere, the cube represents the most compact form possible to use and, at the same time, such a shape creates automatically an harmonic relation with the housing typologies of the surroundings.

The roof
With a cube drawn on the screen as point of departure we start by thinking about how we could reshape this block in order to arrive to our idea of a contemporary Passive House. We start by the roof: Lozen stays in a very snowy location of Bulgaria and the using of the inclined roofs is something that should be think as almost imperative. Our idea was to use this inclined plans but invert the way of function of the roof, and inspired by the Butterfly-roof of Le Corbusier, create a reservoir of water on the top of the house that could save the water from the rains and reutilize it for the bathrooms, for the kitchen and for the garden, to be used as a swimming pool in the summer and with a very simple heating system that uses water as main supply and this way be capable of warm the snow, transform it in water, heat the water and use this reservoir as winter Jacuzzi that stands in the best place of the house – the roof.

The floor
The house doesn’t touch the ground, letting the air pass, creating a ventilated floor and, at the same time, the foot-print is reduced making the area of impermeable ground very little.
A garage and an entrance
The garage is an exterior volume that results of the rotation of a small part of the south facade. This small volume organizes, in the interior, a place for a car and the machinery rooms for the heating and air supplies. This rotation movement of the facade give us the opportunity to create the entrance of the house, turning all this facade for the street and closing it as much as possible to avoid the difficult relation between the south sun and the control of the insulation of the house.

A playground and a living room
A similar movement helps us to create the north opening that creates an honest relation between the living room and the garden located on the north part of the site. The subtracted volume is used as a playground for the children standing on the garden and helps to organize the space. These three volumes organize the site and can be placed as we want in order to respond to different shapes of implantation sites and to the different tastes of the inhabitants.

Interior organization
The interior space is organized by four pre-fabricated volumes, made of a high-density recycled wood, that as they respond to the program question they also structure the house, creating an inner structure that, almost as a tent, allows to create a non structural exterior envelope, made of a 35 cm natural cork panels, that cuts and eliminates all the thermal bridges and facilitates the isolation of the building.
On the heart of the house born the entrance hall that gives access to all the divisions of the house. Copulated to the north facade and with a direct relation with the exterior garden we draw the living and eating rooms, using the west and east facades to organize the sleeping and service rooms. On the west side is organized a complete kitchen and the service wc that connect directly with the living room. On the opposite façade we draw the sleeping rooms: a small room for children, an office on the ground floor and a complete suite on the upper floor. The stair that connects the sleeping zones gives also access to the roof that we drawn almost as the access to an ancient attic but this time made for winter and summer amusement.
The rooms and the service spaces give us the possibility of creating small openings on the west and east facades reducing this way the surface of glace but, nevertheless, taking advantage of the sun light that came from these directions.

Interior ambience
Why chose one if we can have both. This is really our goal and it is on the interior of the house where we mostly feel this motto. Totally covered by a layer of recycled-wood panels the games of straight or inclined plans, the different highs of the ceilings, the division of some spaces in two levels transforms the very small house in a mulpi-spacial experience giving the possibility to the inhabitant to feel the nostalgia of the past, on a present and contemporary house.

Exterior ambience
All the volume is painted in red creating a nice contrast with the summer vegetation and with the snow that will cover the entire site in the winter.

Chose of materials
Wood, or more specifically, recycled wood, was for us, since the beginning, the election material for the house, either for structure or finishing proposes, not only because of the sustainable properties of this material but also because Bulgaria is one of the main supplier of wood and recycled wood in Europe.
The openings, one of the most delicate part of a Passive House, are made in PVC supplied by a Bulgarian producer. We use a principle of a double window: interior surface with double glass, an exterior surface with simple glass and a shading system in between, standing in the 50 cm air-box that separates the two glass surfaces.
The ivy appears as a natural resource that gives the final finishing to the west and east facades and at the same time creates a useful shade to the exterior walls and to the openings.

Energy concept
Our goal is to create a house that consumes as much as it produces – an auto-sufficient house. For that we use the best natural resource in Bulgaria: the wind. This system is present on the roof of the garage where three wind-turbines generate and transform wind in energy; and in the cover of the west and east facades, that hold a high-tech net made of small turbines - NANO-VENT - that at the same time that generates energy also structure the vegetable layer that grows all over the facade.

“Sustainability is not how much of our quality of life we are prepared to sacrifice in order to afford to be sustainable. We should look to sustainability as an opportunity to increase quality life. It’s more like a burden that we have to bear or like it’s a protestant idea that it was to hurt in order to be good.”