For a small village in the north of Spain we made a design for 8 luxury row houses which is the first design in the province of Girona that complies with the passive house standard. They are located on one of the terraced fields at the edge of the village, which were formerly used to grow vegetables. The lot of land is enclosed by an upper street on the north side and a lower street on the south side and affords a panoramic view to the surrounding mountains of the ‘Garrotxa’.
The land-use regulations prescribe an enclosed building block that contains a maximum of 16 homes, with facades directly adjacent to the upper and lower street respectively. Instead of making 8 homes on the north side and 8 on the south side, we decided to reduce the plan to 8 houses in total, which run from street to street entirely, using the entire depth of the building block, which varies from approximately 29,5 till 33,5 meter.
Each house is organized around a central patio, which divides it in a more closed northern part and a more open southern part. The patio has a retractable glass roof, which turns the patio in an open space in summer and a covered space in winter, which makes it possible to have an outdoor dining experience throughout the whole year. From the inner terrace and the adjacent kitchen you can enjoy a small inner garden. During summer, retractable louvres protect the patio from excessive heating and turn the patio in a cool, ventilated place. During winter, the sun enters the patio through the glass roof, and its energy contributes for a big part to the heating of the entire home.
The main entrance of each house is located on the upper street level. From here a walkway crosses the patio and leads to the lower south side of the house, which contains the living room. It’s high ceiling makes it spacious and it’s big partition allows plenty of light to enter. From this living room and it’s adjacent terrace, which lies about 1,5 meter above the lower street level, you can enjoy a panoramic view to the ever green surroundings. A few steps lead you down to the kitchen and the adjacent patio.
The upper level of the house contains dormitories and bathrooms on both sides of the patio and a sun terrace on the south side, with stunning views.
The houses comply with the passive house standard. They are made of a light, prefabricated wooden structure and the exterior parts are airtight and filled with 30 cm insulation. Triple glazing minimalizes energy losses through the windows. The house maximizes the use of passive solar energy through the big partition on the south side and the glass roof of the patio. On the north side openings are limited. Excessive heating is prevented by the natural air stream through the patio, which is protected in summer by the retractable louvres. In winter, the ventilation system with heat regeneration prevents energy losses.
The light, prefabricated facade elements are made of a bio-based composite, a material which consists of natural fibers and plant oil-based resins. It’s relief resembles the sole structure of freshly sown soil and reminds of the former function of the terraced fields.
RVDV is an architectural firm, founded in 1999 by Ron van der Vliet and based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
We focus strongly on space, light and the way people move through and interact with the building. We distil these design elements into strong building concepts that are as clear and simple as possible, without communicating unnecessary visual information.
The context of the building is an important priority for us. In each design we create a dialogue between the building and its surroundings.
We believe that details are essential for a good design. That’s why we elaborate each part of the design with ultimate precision. No part stands out on its own as everything relates to the entire design concept.
RVDV has set itself the goal of designing sustainable buildings. As a result, our buildings are characterized by low energy consumption and we use materials that have a minimum impact on the environment.