This passive, detached barn style house has a charred wood exterior, built in the Ore Mountains at an elevation of 2,500 feet above sea level. The modern barn sits on a mountain ridge at an altitude of 2,500 feet above sea level, this cabin building in the Ore Mountains of the Czech Republic with a lot of character and stands out while also blending beautifully into the natural surroundings. This barn style house is designed by Stempel & Tesar Architects. The cabin buildings traditional design and simple form are complemented by the large expanses of glass which open up the interior spaces of the modern barn to the panoramic views without compromising the cabin building’s insulation. This is a cabin building which requires very little energy in spite of the extreme conditions it faces.
The internal spaces of this modern barn are organized on two floors, underneath a gabled roof which ensures the upstairs stays very warm and cozy. The common areas in the barn style house share the ground floor and feature floor-to-ceiling windows which let in the natural sunlight while also framing the scenic views. The architects also gave this cabin building a winter garden which is the covered space that can be easily accessed from the living and dining areas. There is a large sliding window that allows it to be opened up during the summer, and seamlessly connects the indoor and the outdoor spaces.
Passive home design is the key to sustainable cabin building. The passive home design responds to the local climate and building site conditions to help maximize the cabin building users’ comfort and health while also minimizing energy use. Passive cabin building achieves this by using free, renewable sources of energy to include the sun and wind to provide the household heating and cooling, ventilation and lighting, thereby reducing or removing altogether the need for mechanical heating or cooling. Using passive home design can help reduce temperature fluctuations, improve indoor air quality and make a barn style house drier and more comfortable to live in. Passive home design can also reduce energy use and environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions. Interest in passive design has grown, especially in the last decade or so, as part of a movement towards more sustainable, comfortable and resource-efficient cabin buildings.
Some of the key features of the passive home design include the building location and orientation on the building site, cabin building layout, insulation, window design, thermal mass, shading; and ventilation. Each of these key elements works together with others to help achieve comfortable temperatures and good indoor air quality. The first step in passive home design is to achieve the right amount of solar access, with enough to provide warmth during the cooler months but prevent overheating in the summer. This is done through a combination of building location and orientation, window design, room layout and shading. Both the insulation and the thermal mass help to maintain even temperatures throughout the passive home design, while ventilation helps to provide passive cooling and improve indoor air quality.
All of these key elements work alongside each other and therefore should be considered holistically. For example, large windows in passive home design that let in lots of natural light might also result in excessive heat gain, especially if the windows cast light on an area of thermal mass. Similarly, opening windows in the house that provide ventilation will also let in noise.
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