Built with natural materials (wood, straw, and clay) so that it can be disassembled at the end of its life and returned to nature without producing waste, it is energy independent thanks to its large black pitched roof that is entirely photovoltaic

The idea behind the design and construction of House Z, was to produce as little waste as possible at the end of its life cycle. For this reason, only natural materials were used: walls and ceilings (made of wood, straw and clay) can be burned or returned to nature; concrete can be crushed; even glass and roof panels can be reused. Furniture and shelves are solid wood, fronts and doors made of three-ply glued laminated ash or fir. Windows are wooden, made by a carpenter and soaped on the surface.

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A green heart

Pia and Daniel Zimmermann, principals and builders, live in this house together with their two young children, and they wanted and built a 100 percent sustainable home: a solar power plant on the roof, an electric car in the garage, and a large masonry stove that is the "artistic heart" at the center of House Z. "We can consider ourselves fortunate that craftsmanship in the Bregenz Forest region of Austria is held in high esteem and that know-how is also passed on to future generations. It is only because of this that it was possible to build our home with the quality that we touch every day," they recount.

Resource use and land consumption

A few years ago, the Zimmermanns purchased a large plot of land at the junction of two sloping farm roads. The location above downtown Egg is beautiful: the scent of grass and hay wafts through the air, cows graze nearby, and their cowbells can be heard. Daniel and Pia considered at length the choice of where to build House Z and chose it convinced of sustainability in terms of resource use and land consumption.

Planning with the future in mind

"During planning there is a tendency to question every single step, several times you think about the future, about children," Daniel explains. "Intuition takes a back seat: for every instinctive decision you look for a logical explanation. The road to the goal is often a long one, but in most cases we go back to the first sketches made on the spur of the moment. In the end, I must admit that we are very satisfied with House Z."

Subdividing the spaces

"We organized the room division of House Z in such a way that everyone can have a space to themselves," Pia says. Upstairs is a living room with a built-in balcony. In front of the two children's rooms are the bedroom and a bathroom with attached laundry room. The eat-in kitchen is the real heart of the house and serves as a meeting point. Here people cook, play, celebrate, and live. The ceiling beams and middle panels are spruce, the built-in cabinets and most of the furniture are spruce, and the kitchen cabinetry and floor are ash.

Insulate with straw

The exterior walls, roof and ceiling of the basement of House Z were insulated with straw. Heating and cooling pipes were fixed inside on the mullions. Subsequently, clay plaster was applied in two stages and subsequently processed. On the slightly asymmetrical pitched roof, the Prefa photovoltaic roof tile combined a weather-resistant roofing system with photovoltaic modules for power generation in one product.

A total black photovoltaic tile

"The system immediately convinced us technically and optically. The roof is walkable, the surface is even, and the integrated modules are barely noticeable," Zimmermann explains. The aluminum photovoltaic roof tile is a roofing system with an integrated photovoltaic system that is lightweight and resistant to weather and wind. The photovoltaic elements are integrated into the tile, without the need to drill holes in the roof or run conduit. It is possible to choose between the large photovoltaic tile (which uses FX. 12 as the base panel) or the small photovoltaic tile (which uses R.16 tile as the base panel), both available in P.10 black.

Photos: Croce & Wir / Prefa Italia Srl