Designed following bio-architecture principles, this home in Puglia is one of the first nearly zero energy houses in Italy
A bright comfortable setting, defined by pure volumes and surfaces, looking out through glass expanses onto the surrounding landscape: this is how the NG Architetti studio envisaged one of the first and few examples of an nZEB (nearly zero energy building) home in Italy, in the Santo Stefano area of Monopoli, Puglia. Designed implementing bio-architecture ideas, the home took shape through the vision of the designer couple helming the studio, Vito Nacci and Debora Grande, as a unique place to nurture their lives and those of their children.
In keeping with the latest green architecture trends, the building's energy use stands at 'nearly zero', taking the edifice to achieve a top score during the ITACA Puglia environmental sustainability assessment.
The home develops on two storeys above land, plus another floor below. The outdoor spaces include a patio fitted out for open-air lunching or dining with friends and a swimming pool with relaxation area. Inside, the day zone spreads out on the ground floor, with a single open space comprising the kitchen, the dining room and a lounge. The same level also accommodates the three bedrooms: one double plus two singles. An indoor staircase, edged by a glass wall, leads to the first floor, where two further rooms serve as studies.
The design is innovative both in terms of architecture and eco ideas since it preserves some elements and advantages of tradition while revealing a contemporary identity. Thanks to the different treatment of the various elevations, the edifice reaches a high level of efficiency in consumption: the north face features small openings, while the south-facing ones are larger and screened by specifically added overhangs or porches. This way, the sun's rays can penetrate the building in winter, when the sun is lower on the horizon, but not in summer.
The designers were mindful of the environmental impact of the building site and primary materials, and so opted for 30cm-thick eco insulation blocks finished with a further 10cm of thermal cladding. These cladding panels are made of 80% recycled fiberglass and are low-VOC emitting, while the external walls have a breathable siloxane finish. Careful attention has also been given to the choice of colors for the outdoor surfaces, including the patio, terraces and the tiles on the slanted roof: these are in pale tones very close to shades of white so as to minimize summer heat generation caused by the sun's rays.
The windows and openings have been conceived to make the most of natural ventilation: the entire house develops around a compact central courtyard, accessed from the basement level and oriented to catch summer breezes. This enables a fresh-air current to be generated and, attracted down to the basement level, in the summer this cools the upper floors open onto this space and north-facing parts.
In order to achieve the A4 energy rating and to comply with the minimum levels set for certification as a nearly zero energy building (nZEB), the architects opted for panoramic PVC-frame HST and Prolux Evolution windows by Oknoplast, with triple glazing, in a white finish. The sliding opening mechanism of the HST system (available with two or four window panels and up to 6 meters in width) is smooth and silent, while Prolux Evolution ensures up to 22% more light compared to customary PVC-frame windows.
Installed on the roof are photovoltaic panels and two solar collectors to provide some domestic hot water. Instead, the heating, cooling and hot water production is fed by an electric heat pump, which draws on solar energy for three months of the year. The eco-friendly choices also extend as far as the induction cooktop in the kitchen, so the house has no need for gas.
Location: Monopoli, Bari, Italy
Architect: NG Architetti
Photography by and courtesy of NG Architetti