We’ve seen a number of different approaches to creating energy efficient buildings. There’s the passive house approach, which relies on massive amounts of insulation, super-tight building construction and passive solar orientation. We’ve seen homes built into the earth itself, which make use of the temperature-regulating properties of the soil. But this is the first structure we’ve seen that relies largely on the shape of the building itself to cut the amount of heat that escapes from it.
Evgeni Leonov’s Multi-Comfort House concept for urban revitalization (which comes to us via eVolo) calls for an egg-shaped row of houses. This shapes serves to minimize the surface area to volume (A/V) ratio of the building — and minimal external surface means minimal heat losses. As one of the most energy efficient forms forms found in nature, the egg provided a direct inspiration for the project, which aims to revitalize unused, abandoned industrial space in the United Kingdom. To minimize the A/V ratio ratio, the design joins a series of houses together with linked walls, effectively deleting all corners. As a result, the A/V ratio is reduced by over 50 percent.
The architect sees this design as one that could adapt easily to different abandoned industrial areas. Old, unused warehouses would be taken down to make way for a rings of such structures — built to effective dimensions, then formed to fit the site — which contain shops, clubs, workshops and studios as well as homes. The rounded row of mixed-use housing gently bends around on itself to form a ring, creating a central courtyard space at its center envisioned as a park/common area, or Local Community Core.
This core is a common recreation space open to all people living in the neighborhood. It contains a playground, swimming pool, garden and underground parking, which keeps cars contained within a single block (and out of sight). All of which not only has cost advantages over traditional housing developments, but social advantages as well. By creating common areas for the members of the community to park, play and socialize, this proposal aims not only to revitalize industrial space for human habitation, but to create real connections between neighbors. (The architect even envisions a common kindergarten for members of the community in a historic nearby warehouse.)
Beyond its shape, the Multi-Comfort House concept draws on passive house design strategies to further aid its energy efficiency. Toward that end, ISOVER materials are used, which would allow the development to meet the high standards of Passive House certification. Based on these design specs, the annual heat demand of the building is just 3.33 kilowatt house per square meter.