Excerpt: House in Ametlla, designed by Slow Studio, is a sustainable residence with a context and climate responsive building form enclosed with habitable spaces built with natural material having full of light and airy atmosphere surrounded by a courtyard.
[Text as submitted by architect] This passive house in Ametlla del Vallès was commissioned by a family with a Slow philosophy, who enjoys spending time at home and are passionate about music. They are a couple with two children and one on the way, who arrive at the studio when they are still waiting for their first child, with the illusion of starting a life project in line with the values of the studio.
When we meet them, they have not yet bought the land, so our team accompanies them from the first steps, reviewing the technical and legal aspects of the land and accompanying them in the design and construction phases. The acquired land is located in a small and quiet area in the north of Barcelona, in a residential area well connected to the city centre on a small south-facing hill.
It has a certain slope that allows us to achieve magnificent views and sunlight but also means increasing the technical complexity of the implantation by having to save a large gap from the street to the area where the main floor of the house is located. Although the plot has a slope of several meters on the access street, it was decided to locate the house at a certain height in relation to the street in order to improve solar gain and views.
The project strategy is based on an elongated plot that extends longitudinally in a north-south direction and makes it necessary to seek a solution to guarantee the supply of light and heat to all the rooms. Thus, it was decided to build the dwelling on a single compact semi-buried floor to improve the thermal efficiency of the whole. To guarantee the sunshine in the back rooms, we added a central courtyard that functions as a thermal buffer in summer and winter.
Thus, the house is divided into two strips by a covered patio that works as a greenhouse. In the southern area, the living, dining and kitchen programs are located, while the northern strip contains the bedrooms and bathrooms. The children’s rooms, which have a direct relationship with the courtyard, share the study area, which is also a passageway around the house. The patio, which is protected by glass, acts as a greenhouse and helps us to regulate the temperature throughout the house, as well as generate cross ventilation in the living areas and bedrooms.
In winter, the air inside the courtyard is heated through the roof glass, according to the greenhouse effect that traps the sun’s heat but does not let it escape. This pre-heated air is brought into the interior of the house through micro-ventilation in doors and windows. In summer, the courtyard is protected by vegetation and the roof windows are opened to prevent direct sunlight and generate ventilation. In addition, the natural adobe floor accumulates humidity from the environment or is induced by the direct supply of water which, when it evaporates, steals calories from the environment, improving the thermal sensation of coolness.