Active Homes – Eco Designs, Fit For The Future

oliver General, Healthy spaces, Technology/ Energy Saving

It’s really exciting to see new ideas in homebuilding rising up. Ideas that buck the trend of lame developers and their identikit, pastiche ‘olde worlde’ style housing. Like all technology, developments in housing are happening all the time and there are some fantastic examples of truly contemporary and sustainable housing popping up.

I recently took part in a seminar at Grand Designs Live alongside Velux, who have been working on their own Active House model. ‘Active?’ I hear you ask. How active can a house with rooted foundations really be? Well, here’s how.

Active House is ‘a vision of buildings that create healthier and more comfortable lives for their occupants without negative impact on the climate’. It’s hard to argue with that as a mission statement. Active Houses are also designed to interact with local conditions and aim to be CO2 positive over the course of their lifetime.

The Active House goal is a long term one. The idea is that interested parties will cooperate at all stages throughout the building process to move together towards the overall vision. It’s a really great idea and one I can really see working.

Of course, Active Houses don’t have to be just new build homes. The same principles apply to renovations, offices and public buildings. These principles are based around contributing positively in terms of energy, indoor climate and the environment.

This Realdania Byg – Energiparcel prototype house in Denmark is a great example of an Active House. The Energiparcel house investigates how low energy consumption can go when retrofitting. A hybrid ventilation system and manually controlled solar shades regulate the indoor climate to keep it pleasant and healthy.




Velux are also proving that you can make carbon light homes that are ‘practical, comfortable and appealing to the consumer’. These two semi-detached houses in Kettering, Northants are part of the Model Home 2020 project. Unlike most eco building projects in the UK, these are not prototypes and will actually be available on the market. Velux are really leading the way here, I feel.




You should also check out their Maison Air et Lumiére house at Verriéres-le-Buisson, France and LichtAktiv Haus project in Hamburg, Germany. Maison Air et Lumiere uses the pitched roof to maximise the house’s intake of light and solar energy. The modular approach means that custom layouts can be designed to meet individual families’ needs.



The LichtAktiv project uses windows on the facades and roof, as well as a natural ventilation system to transform a classic 1950s semi into a ‘carbon-neutral home of the future’.



There’s plenty more to come from the Active House, so watch this space.