4 Passive Houses by Anders Holmberg



Swedish architect Anders Holmberg has designed four highly insulated houses in Stockholm, Sweden, that use the heat generated by people and appliances inside to keep them warm.


Each residence is based on the design of a typical Swedish house and is constructed from styrofoam blocks with a plywood surface on each side.


The houses incorporate heat exchangers that use heat from the sun and recycle the waste heat produced by appliances inside the home.


The buildings are clad in dark wood panelling.


Here's some text from the architect:


4 Passive Houses in Stockholm Sweden.

Passive Houses are well-insulated buildings that are largely heated by the energy already present in the building – people and our household equipment generate a lot of energy.


The heat inside the building is utilized and the sun is also used to heat both the building and tap water whenever possible.


The houses are designed with certain criteria to be called “Passive Houses” and it is a common that these houses are not so well designed so our goal was to prove that we can design a modern low energy house without being dark or dull.


I believe that the future is to build in a low energy way so that we all can have a low cost living and also save our planet at the same time we live in a modern architectural house.


The typical Swedish house with its pitched roof is the basic design we used to create the volume and added the tubes to emphasize the entrance and the terrace on the back.


The tubes will take away sunlight during summer when the sun is high so the house don’t become overheated during summer.


The exterior has a wooden panel in dark grey and as a contrast we painted all the interior and inside of the tubes in white to reflect all light.


The glass area has to be 15% of the floor area to be called Passive House.


The structure of the house are made of sandwich blocks made of styrofoam and one layer of plywood on each side and you build it like bricks.


This is a unique system and its load bearing, superinsulated, low energy and easy to build.


Posted on Thursday August 13th 2009 at 1:13 pm by Zaynab D. Ziari. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • one

    Another highly insulated house. I always wonder about getting enough fresh air from outside, the sooner I hear about these ‘refregerator’ box architecture. In this case passivness saves the air from outside. Small windows still remain as the consequence and I wonder if this is a good place to live for your whole life. If one do not love to live in there sooner or later the building will be brought down and replaced with another, which might end up in more energy consumption… I assume that it is importatn to work with much more broader view on this issue…

  • The most interesting thing about this project, to me, is the traditional form of the house. The technology used isn’t cutting edge, the plywood/foam panels described are typically referred to as SIPs (structural insulated panels) and the solar heat exchanger has been around since at least the 1970’s. What is unusual, and commendable, is using this technology and creating a house that carries a traditional form rather than departing for some “cutting edge” form that alienates many and can actually deter the use of sustainable technologies because of it. Oh, and it is really beautiful too.

  • Kong

    1.This only proofs that you can render this building without looking dark and dull. The amount of windows on the second floor, wont make a very bright second floor.

    2.The glass area has to be 15% of the floor area to be called Passive House.
    This is untrue.

    3. There is nothing innovative about this house and i don t know how it got on dezeen. All the technology used is very oldschool. The Foam Sandwiches have been used in the sixties already, and they havent been aging very nicely. The whole concept is copy paste from any conventional passive house website.

  • Olivier

    Dans ce projet, est-ce que le styrofoam est utilisé comme élément structural ?
    Donc il peut supporter de grandes charge? Et pour le toit ?

  • “Each residence is based on the design of a typical Swedish house ”
    well thank you, us swedes arent already known to be boring enough? this country sometimes makes me ill with boredom.

  • Katarina

    completely agree with michael john… what to do about sweden??
    there just isn’t any innovation at all. :(

  • jag

    wrong katarina! weve been there, done that. Its called miljonprogrammet, and it sux. ;) Back to basics i guess, building on things that have proven to work.

    I think the houses looks very nice and artsy fartsy. But i would personally never buy a passive house for a number of reason. One being: without radiators, where would i put my wet gloves in the winter?

  • willem

    i love sweden because it is soooh boring …
    was this designed for abba? when exactly?
    sweden seems well adequately insulated!
    stop showing us more passive architects.

  • jag

    i have another thing to add after looking closer at the drawings;
    I do not know the english term, but in swedish its called snedtak. I think i might be called sloping roof? Im talking about the bedrooms and the bathroom on the upper level.

    I personally have lived i houses with this kind of roof and i can say that it is very frustrating only to be able to stand up straight in half of the room. To acces the shelf in the master bedroom, you will have to crawl. In the bathroom you can barely walk past the toilet without bumping your head into the roof/wall.

    This type of rooms also heavily limits the type of furniture you can use. The architect have tried to put to much in to little space. This is, to me, an example where form comes before function.

  • Dan

    Limiting the type of furniture we use and sacrificing some comfort to maximize space will be a necessary avenue in the future of home design. A passive solar home, in order to work, almost always requires a smaller footprint on the land as well.

    As our population grows, at least here in the United States, we will have to learn to build UP not OUT. This is perhaps an over-simplified design–which obviously frustrates some of the Swedes in the room–and is nothing revolutionary in terms of technology. But the argument is not about newness of the design; passive solar design has been around for millennia; it is about the lack of widespread use since things like SIPs and heat exchangers were invented. Here in the U.S. their use is still rather rare. Homes of the future should be minimalistic, simple, and take advantage of technologies old and new so that someday we will find a way to create millions of affordable net-zero energy homes.

  • Cory

    As a side note, I was hoping you could tell us what software was used in developing the model and construction documents?

    Thanks in advance,


  • Ale

    Its seems that everybody here is complaining about this project! Not so new ok, but good looking… and mostly a PASSIVE HOUSE! do some of the ppl here know something about a passive house??? Well I am actually studying to pass the CPE exam and I really tell you that is not easy to project a really good passive house… and is not easy to have a good looking and respect all the passive house criteria… I mean that if you are looking for something more “interesting” maybe you could just open any kind of architecture magazine and amaze yourself with fluid wall that seems more water than wall…