as part of an architectural competition for xella cellular concrete blocks,
nicolas dorval-bory architect and emilio marin have developed ‘snow house’, a winter chalet that uses
sustainable means to provide home heating. the project uses xella aerated concrete blocks
which are energy-efficient building panels. using this material combined with its compact
square plan helps to reduce the loss of heat. the house is also built close to the ground with
no overhang while the central courtyard is kept open to allow for a significant supply of light
and fresh air in the summer.
additional heating is achieved through two systems called the
geothermal heat pump
and trombe wall. both work in tandem to first pump
fresh cold air from the exterior to later
pass through the trombe wall
for heating. during the day, the trombe wall warms the air using
greenhouse effect trapping it between two walls. at night, the heat
stored between the high
thermal walls is distributed through the house.
the system is controlled by motorized valves to
prevent a reverse flow
of air overnight.
the supporting structure of the house is made out of 15 cm xella
blocks, lined with a vapor barrier
and 10cm xella panels, with a black
waterproof roughcast coating to maximize solar gain and limit
accumulation of snow on the roof.
cold air pumped from the exterior is used to warm the interior using a geothermal pump and trombe wall
the interior rooms are provided different levels of thermal insulation
depending on the activities
they are used for. bedrooms and bathrooms
on the south end of the building have a higher indoor
the living room and kitchen facing the north. this is possible due to the natural slope
on which the house sits on.