This winter, it’s all the news has talked about; rising gas prices, the cost of living, efficiency in the home… And while the reasons behind these conversations are saddening and infuriating in many ways, the consequences in the interior design industry may be positive in the long term.
In the interior design sphere, the topic of sustainability and energy consumption has become a hot subject, with many architects and interior designers prioritising these elements in recent years. This is undoubtedly an inspiring development, as the more we concentrate on building sustainable houses, the more we’re empowering people to create impact in our world.
An emerging concept has been popping up in design publications and some architecture practices: “low-energy homes”. This peaked our interest, and we started wondering…
What is a low-energy home?
The answer is in the name, but let’s dig in together. Low-energy homes are spaces expressly designed to consume low levels of energy, particularly electricity from non-renewable sources. There are many ways to do this, but interior designers and architects interested in this concept tend to use the following solutions:
- Highly insulated homes in colder climates.
- Ventilated homes in warmer climates.
- Traditional and local building techniques.
- Optimisation of the sun’s position in the building of the home.
- Use of local materials to cut off transportation energy costs.
- Solar panels.
The best sustainable and low-energy interior designs
Now that we know what we’re celebrating, let’s go through some of our favourite low-energy sustainable homes, and why they have that title.
Muswell Hill home by Architecture for London
Ben Ridley, Director at Architecture for London, wanted to renovate his home through his own practice and let the project serve as a model for the sustainable renovation of a typical terraced property in London on a limited budget.
Muswell Hill Edwardian terrace was expanded and rebuilt to provide a pleasant, low-energy home. The house's original construction was discovered, and its simple, serene beauty was enhanced with modern touches and a limited colour palette.
Insulating, triple-glazing, and enhancing airtightness significantly cut energy consumption, and a back expansion and a loft conversion were added to use up as much space as possible. Both embodied energy and energy in use have been thoroughly examined, to create a wonderful home that lives and breathes sustainability.
Punta Majahua apartments by Zozaya Arquitectos
Zozaya Arquitectos built a wonderful array of beach homes in Punta Majahua. The unique shape of the building was inspired by the waves of the ocean, which blend onto each other seamlessly.
Because Mexico has year-long heat and humidity, the building was designed with traditional and innovative methods to keep the inside of the homes permanently cool and mild. They used ancestral materials popular in the area of construction, and built with thick masonry walls which limit the amount of heat gain due to their thickness. The thatched roofs provide shade and coolness, which is enhanced by the marble floors – perpetually cold to the touch.
Timber Villa by T3 Architects
T3 Architects constructed a fantastic villa in Vietnam, showing everyone how luxury and sustainability can be achieved together. They built an atmosphere that could keep cool and low-energy for extended periods of time by taking into account the tropical climate conditions of Saigon, namely: hygrometry rate, primary wind directions (at various seasons) and sun orientation (to construct each facade according to the sun exposure). The structure of the home is timber-only, to guarantee durability and efficiency in every aspect.
Assam home by Sustainable Architecture for Earth
Sustainable Architecture for Earth is an architectural firm, dedicated to creating exciting, sustainable homes that impact communities positively. The interior design of the home is decked out with local materials and artisanal objects, all of them coming from a 100km radius around the home to keep the space community-sourced and focused. The home is kept refreshed and in tune with nature via its beautiful central courtyard or aangan, the traditional heart of Indian homes.
Wooden house in Bohemia by ASGK Design
Award-winning and totally experimental, this house by AGSK Design is the epitome of eco-conscious design. The windows are triple-glazed filled with inert gas to maintain a warm temperature inside the home. Using the lowest energy possible, the house is heated with radiant infra panels plus an additional wood-burning stove. A bivalent tank is used to provide hot water, with the possibility of connecting to solar collectors. To take advantage of solar power in the winter, the primary living room incorporates large-format windows.