Modern architecture is no stranger to the greenhouse effect–the heat trapping ability of glass is what has often rendered so many modernist house by Mies van der Rohe and others extraodinariy expensive to cool. But this house, designed by Verdickt & Verdickt, uses greenhouse warming to its advantage, to generate heat. Reflective panels on either end of the house, combined with insulation, regulate the warming effects.
Moreover, it’s in Belgium, where summers are cool–meaning that warming a house is much more of a concern than cooling it. The house wouldn’t work in Arizona, but it wasn’t designed to. Which points to an interesting quirk of housing design in the U.S. We tend to apply housing designs totally irrespective of their environment–you can find Georgian or Mission-style McMansions in every city. What most developers have ignored is creating vernacular architecture, such as this greenhouse which is tailored to the climate challenges posed by its location. Why aren’t there adobe houses with heat chimneys in the desert, and greenhouses in the Pacific Northwest? Here’s to hoping that the bursting of the housing bubble will lead more home builders to invest more in good design up front, rather than building cheaply to reap a short-term benefit.