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House for a Writer in Bohemia

Front Studio Architects and Emergenative Architecture

Prague, Czech Republic

Summer 2014

Located 30 miles north of Prague, Czech Republic, an energy-efficient 1200 sf residence.

The client requested a place to retreat: a private yet open space, full of light.  The House was to be strikingly modern yet contextual.  Built upon an abandoned single-story structure for housing pigs and chickens, it is an extension of an 18th century farmhouse.

The new construction achieves the challenging performance requirements of a German Passivhaus, and it exceeds LEED Platinum.

Energy Conservation
The existing masonry (sandstone and brick) was mostly preserved or reused. New materials were selected for their low carbon footprints and longevity (locally harvested timber, bamboo flooring, white aluminum roofing).  High efficiency building systems recycle and retain heat energy.

People and Community
In a dense rural context, the House re-interprets the traditional stone and timber house, and translates it into modern form.  Local artisans contracted to build the timber construction employed traditional techniques.  The identity of the House is Old yet New. Views from the modern interior to the sky and garden underscore the rural context.

The House is oriented South and West for natural daylighting and cross-ventilation.  Clean indoor air is maintained by HRV technology.  Roof runoff is directed underground to the garden which has semi-permeable materials.  The House is less than a 1/4 mile from local and regional rail transit.

Passive Technology
In winter, solar energy warms the Northern wall which acts as a passive thermal mass.  Radiant heating will transfer heat passively to the other masonry walls, and the thermal equilibrium between floors will be maintained using the HRV unit.  The House has:

-an airtight envelope with low heat loss (less than .15W/m2K),
-electrical on-demand hot water,
-triple glazing.

Innovative Technology
New wall assemblies are "open" to both sides, have low permeability, are without thermal bridges, and are insulated with hydrophobic insulation.  Natural and forced air circulation on both sides prevent the settling of moisture within the assembly.

Combining the old and the new is cost effective and enhances the quality of life of its resident. The house is affordable and offers high standards at a low cost ($115/sf).

The wall section and energy diagrams show that the House is built to perform well in its cold climate, and offer exceptional environmental comfort to its resident.

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