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Stockholm family wraps home in greenhouse to warm up weather

The average temperature in Stockholm in January is -3°C (27°F). For Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto it can be much warmer thanks to the greenhouse that blankets their home.

“For example at the end of January it can be -2°C outside and it can be 15 to 20°C upstairs,” explains Sacilotto. He was inspired to build a house-in-a-greenhouse through his relationship with architect Bengt Warne who began designing the first Naturhus (Nature House) in 1974*.

Originally Sacilotto looked for an empty lot to build an entirely new Naturhus, but he eventually settled on an old summer house on the Stockholm archipelago. Using Warne’s design, he covered the small summer home, plus an addition, in 4 millimeter glass. The footprint of the greenhouse is nearly double that of the home, leaving plenty of room for a wrap-around garden, and since inside the bubble it’s a Mediterranean climate, the couple now grow produce atypical for Sweden (e.g. figs, tomatoes, cucumbers).

The favorite spot is the glass-covered roof deck. Since there’s no longer need for a roof, the couple removed it and now have a large space for sunbathing, reading or playing with their son on swings and bikes.

The greenhouse isn’t the only novel point to the Granmar-Sacilotto home. They are also completely independent from city sewage. Built by Sacilotto- an engineer by training-, the sewage system begins with a urine-separating toilet and uses centrifuges, cisterns, grow beds and garden ponds to filter the water and compost the remains.

As Sacilotto explains, “It’s not just to use the nature, the sun and the water, but… it’s all a philosophy of life, to live in another world, in fact.”

His mentor Warne described this other world as another dimension. “Living in a greenhouse gives architecture a fourth dimension, where time is represented by movements of naturally recycled endless flows of growth, sun, rain, wind and soil in plants, energy, air, water and earth. I call this NATUREHOUSING.”

* In the video, Granmar mentions architect Bengt Warne’s influence in the 1990s since this is the date he reached a larger audience with his book release.

  • Caroline Baty-Barr

    Would this be feasible to do on the back side of a home that does not have any heat or A/C going to a kitchen add on? Specifically, to help warm the kitchen in the winter near Chicago?

    • kirstendirksen

      Marie is writing a book to cover all the questions they have been receiving about the design. She’s currently trying to raise funds to write it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/317723508/living-in-a-greenhouse-experiences-from-nature-hou

    • Sapioit_

      Why salt, when you can use some slightly bent (zig-zag or helix) tubes for the water or air, and rammed earth (5% cement, 5-20% water, and the rest dirt, and packed down really densely) for the heat storage, and solar heating of water or solar concentrator lines, to heat the storage and move the water?

      You’d also need aircrete (aerated concrete) or bricks with hollow channels/pockets/rooms, for insulating the heat storage from the rest of the environment. Also, a small steam or stirling engine can be used to power a fan, to transfer heat from and to the heat storage.

      The advantage of the stirling engine is that you can get more energy than from the steam engine, from the same amount of heat, and you can use the temperature difference between the outside and the heat storage to generate more energy than the steam engine, and it also give off electricity if you have a generator attached to it and maybe a battery to store some power.

      Oh, and if you want to go an extra mile, you can use the fan to cool down a second storage unit, where you keep a temperature as low as possible, to generate more energy overall. If you go an extra mile, you can also add another stirling engine to simply heat up or cool down the place even more.

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  • Sapioit_

    Why salt, when you can use some slightly bent (zig-zag or helix) tubes for the water or air, and rammed earth (5% cement, 5-20% water, and the rest dirt, and packed down really densely) for the heat storage, and solar heating of water or solar concentrator lines, to heat the storage and move the water?

    You’d also need aircrete / aerated concrete or bricks with hollow channels/pockets/rooms, for insulating the heat storage from the rest of the environment. Also, a small steam or stirling engine can be used to power a fan, to transfer heat from and to the heat storage.

    The advantage of the stirling engine is that you can get more energy than from the steam engine, from the same amount of heat, and you can use the temperature difference between the outside and the heat storage to generate more energy than the steam engine, and it also give off electricity if you have a generator attached to it and maybe a battery to store some power.

    Oh, and if you want to go an extra mile, you can use the fan to cool down a second storage unit, where you keep a temperature as low as possible, to generate more energy overall. If you go an extra mile, you can also add another stirling engine to simply heat up or cool down the place even more.