Architecture

Living in a greenhouse: One family's experiment in sustainable living

Living in a greenhouse: One fa...
People in glass houses ... Helly Scholten and family will live in the home for a total of three years
People in glass houses ... Helly Scholten and family will live in the home for a total of three years
View 15 Images
The generous rooftop vegetable garden, which the occupants use to grow most of their greens
1/15
The generous rooftop vegetable garden, which the occupants use to grow most of their greens
The 135 sq m (1,453 sq ft) home is dubbed CHiBB (Concept House Institute of Building and Business Administration) House
2/15
The 135 sq m (1,453 sq ft) home is dubbed CHiBB (Concept House Institute of Building and Business Administration) House
It looks, frankly, a lovely place to live
3/15
It looks, frankly, a lovely place to live
Scholten and family moved into the greenhouse in June 2015
4/15
Scholten and family moved into the greenhouse in June 2015
Structurally, the house comprises a timber structure with a greenhouse-like glass covering
5/15
Structurally, the house comprises a timber structure with a greenhouse-like glass covering
The interior includes three bedrooms and a home office, in addition to a generous rooftop vegetable garden
6/15
The interior includes three bedrooms and a home office, in addition to a generous rooftop vegetable garden
The house is, essentially, an oversized greenhouse
7/15
The house is, essentially, an oversized greenhouse
The house comprises a timber frame structure and greenhouse-like glass covering
8/15
The house comprises a timber frame structure and greenhouse-like glass covering
People in glass houses ... Helly Scholten and family will live in the home for a total of three years
9/15
People in glass houses ... Helly Scholten and family will live in the home for a total of three years
Scholten and family moved into the greenhouse in June 2015 and will be living there full time until 2018
10/15
Scholten and family moved into the greenhouse in June 2015 and will be living there full time until 2018
The interior includes three bedrooms and a home office
11/15
The interior includes three bedrooms and a home office
The designer told us that the interior can get too hot underneath the glass in warm weather
12/15
The designer told us that the interior can get too hot underneath the glass in warm weather
Rainwater is collected in six tanks for use as irrigation and toilet flushing
13/15
Rainwater is collected in six tanks for use as irrigation and toilet flushing
The house is, essentially, an oversized greenhouse
14/15
The house is, essentially, an oversized greenhouse
It looks, frankly, a lovely place to live
15/15
It looks, frankly, a lovely place to live
View gallery - 15 images

Dutch stylist Helly Scholten is interested in living sustainably, so when the chance came to move herself and her family into an experimental sustainable house designed by Rotterdam University students and researchers, she jumped at it. Essentially an oversized greenhouse, the house was built to explore sustainable methods of living and will serve as the family's full-time home for three years.

Scholten and family moved into their new digs in June 2015 and will be living in the home full time until 2018. The 135 sq m (1,453 sq ft) dwelling is officially dubbed the CHiBB (Concept House Institute of Building and Business Administration) House, and is based within the Concept House Village in Rotterdam, an initiative exploring innovative housing concepts in a bid to develop new sustainable housing.

Structurally, the house comprises a timber frame with a huge greenhouse-like glazed area up top. Its interior includes three bedrooms and a home office. In addition, a generous rooftop vegetable garden is used to grow most of the family's greens.

The temperature inside is controlled by simply opening operable windows. There's no solar power, but a solar water heating system provides hot water. In addition, rainwater is collected in six tanks for use as irrigation and toilet flushing, and the home is also part-clad in green walls.

Structurally, the house comprises a timber structure with a greenhouse-like glass covering
Structurally, the house comprises a timber structure with a greenhouse-like glass covering

It looks, frankly, a lovely light-filled place to live, and Scholten, who is in charge of decorating the interior, has done an excellent job making it feel like a proper home inside. That said, the experience hasn't been all plain sailing. Scholten told us that it can get a little too hot in warm weather, while the heating also doesn't currently work, resulting in the family needing to wear coats inside during winter.

The kitchen also has issues and was measured incorrectly, meaning the family wasn't able to use all their appliances. In the end they took matters into their own hands and installed a small stove on the terrace which is used as a kitchen.

Still, these hiccups aside – it is an experimental house after all – the family has so far enjoyed its experience serving as sustainable guinea pigs. Once the project has run its course, the house itself will be sold (for around US$554,000, according to the New York Times), while Scholten's partner Mark de Leeuw told us that they are exploring the possibility of next living in an off-grid floating home.

Helly Scholten documents the family's experience living in the CHiBB House on her website and Instagram account (links below).

Sources: Helly Scholten, Instagram, CHiBB

View gallery - 15 images
3 comments
Buellrider
I really like the concept and execution of this house. Seems like what a home should be. With all the greenery the air should be oxygen rich and sweet. Love it.
kmccune
There are a couple of problems with this design (privacy comes to mind ,winter heating after the sun goes down ,bird strikes ,expense )why not just attach a green room to a current structure with proper earth bermed design many advantages can be realized,the late great Mike Oehler had good designs for earth sheltered greenhouses. How come the rain water wasnt the total water supply? But all in all ,it is lovely and fanciful ,one good thing it will help future designs.
MEdwardLovett
Lots of nice photos of a dog and some stairs. I expected to see more about HOW they were growing their food, instead, the very last photo shows a rooftop garden. I don't see any real science here.