Italian architectural firm Traverso-Vighy and the Department of Physics at the University of Padua have teamed up to create an innovative zero-energy home dubbed “Tvzeb.” Located in the woodlands a few kilometers from the historic center of Vicenza, the home combines the use of recycled materials, geothermal and solar energy generation, LED lighting and wall and roof insulation made from 40,000 recycled plastic bottles.

Following on from other projects developed by Traverso-Vighy, the home’s structure incorporates the use of CNC machined and handcrafted components. This allows the building to be disassembled at the end of its life cycle so its materials can be more easily separated and recycled.

The home features two joining structures that are made from untreated larch wood and a Corten steel shell. Both rest slightly above the ground, supported by two steel foundation beams running lengthways. The frame system has been carefully designed to be completely hidden and the chosen materials also blend into the surrounding landscape.

Tvzeb’s structural design aims to maximize the amount of natural sunlight entering the home during the winter months, while also shielding it from the sun during the warmer months. The south façade is characterized by a large quadratic sun porch, coupled with interior automated blinds. The interior lighting features the use of LED bars which are recessed into the floor, allowing the light to bounce off the aluminum panels on the interior walls.

The home also features an integrated photovoltaic system consisting of 16 solar panels that should produce enough energy to cover the annual electricity needs of the building. A geothermal heat pump and wood stove are utilized to heat the building during the winter, while reflective glass helps keep the heat out during the summer.

A double layer of 90 mm (3.5 inch) polyester fiber wadding insulates the perimeter walls and the roofing of the home. The polyester fiber was made from the recycling of approximately 40,000 plastic bottles and provides optimum thermal and acoustic insulation. The energy used to produce the material is also minimal when compared to mineral wool.

The research team from the University of Padua will monitor the "life" of the home, collect data on its energy efficiency and identify additional strategies to optimize its sustainability and the condition of the building.

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