Plugged-In Prefab Collects Weather Data to Conserve Energy

Easy-to-assemble wooden modules and home automation systems make this Serra d'Espadà residence as sustainable as it is smart.
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With the help of the prefab experts at NOEM, an outdoorsy Spanish family created a high-tech countryside retreat in Serra d'Espadà. Architect Aitor Iturralde Martín says the design team opted for a clean, contemporary look that would be a departure from the concrete and brick houses that otherwise populate the area. The house is a simple two module configuration that is punctuated by a terrace and bold metal structure that "projects towards the landscape." The entire structure took only 10 days to assemble.

New pine and spruce wood from the Pyrenees (both recyclable and PEFC certified) were selected for the façade of the 1,000-square-foot prefab. Smart blinds cover the windows, rigged to open and close depending on the weather forecast.

Insulation made from wood fiber, sheep wool, and recycled cotton is one of the many elements that help make the home sustainable. Other green features include passive-house construction standards and a heat recovery ventilation system to welcome in fresh air.

Outdoor facilities were also carefully considered to cater to the residents' desire to spend plenty of time outside. The pool in the front yard is complemented by a designated barbecue area and outdoor bathroom. Garden sensors monitor soil moisture and irrigation levels.

The sanctuary is also smart in another respect: various intelligent control systems automate its energy-consumption. "We installed sensors and actuators through a home automation switchboard to be able to monitor and analyze all systems in real time and achieve superior levels of energy-efficiency and comfort," Martín says. "Temperature, humidity, energy consumption, sunlight, and air quality data are analyzed by the switchboard, which according to the settings can activate different systems automatically." 

Inside the home, soft oak flooring and the immaculate white walls and furniture “maximize the sensation of light,” Martín says.

The kitchen takes up one wall of the central dining-living space, allowing multiple functions to take place at once.

The dining room table transforms into a pool table for recreation.

Many elements of the home can be controlled remotely from the residents’ smart phones, including internal temperatures. The GPS on their phones will activate heating systems 20 minutes in advance of their arrival to optimize energy consumption. A similar system is employed for the showers; a water recirculation pump fills the pipes with hot water five minutes before a scheduled shower time.

Solar power cells on top of the building collect energy that’s used for both water systems and electricity.


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