Glass House is big on efficiency, not so big on privacy
Slovenia's OFIS Architects recently completed a prototype micro-house that runs off-the-grid in Granada, Spain, and serves as a retreat for one or two people for up to a week at a time. The dwelling, appropriately dubbed Glass House, sports an energy-efficient triple-glazed glass facade.
The Glass House, aka Casa del Desierto/Desert House, was conceived by glass manufacturer Guardian Glass (which also provided glazing for La Seine Musicale), to display its expertise in producing glass suitable for all weather. The project also involved structural engineers AKT II and climate engineering firm Transsolar.
The home measures 20 sq m (215 sq ft), split between three areas: a bedroom, a bathroom with sunken bathtub, and a living area. In an otherwise open design, one major concession to privacy is the toilet, which is placed in an opaque glass cubicle. A mirrored porch area with large curtains also add some shading and privacy.
Roof-based photovoltaic panels and a battery array provide all the electricity, while a solar collector produces hot water. A water tank is installed and a filtration system recycles greywater for drinking. The toilet is a standard flushing unit hooked up to a septic tank.
It can get very hot in Granada, Spain, and we did wonder how the interior would remain at a comfortable temperature – a concern shared by locals.
"The first time I heard about this project, I was baffled," says Miguel Pérez Navarro, mayor of Gorafe, Granada. "It may seem crazy at first, because it is about building something like a greenhouse in a desert, where on top of it all, the traditional houses are cave houses, which were originally excavated by the locals to adapt to this extreme climate."
We put this question to OFIS and were told that the home's overall design and use of triple-glazed efficient glass will ensure a comfortable temperature. The firm also installed insulation in the roof and floor, and a small air-conditioning unit can run using the energy provided by the solar panels.