Nicolas Koff uses compressed straw for insulating family home
Architecture, especially residential architecture, is not normally the ground for experimenting with unlikely combinations. But not for a Canadian physician couple and the architect of their home, Nicolas Koff. Taking both the location’s (Ontario) climatic characteristics and the clients’ commitment to sustainable and healthy living into consideration, Koff came up with the idea of pairing straw and fire for maximum temperature optimisation. The house was built from 40 cm thick, prefabricated panels that are composed of compressed straw. The material has extremely high insulation properties while it is also completely natural and eco-friendly.
The heating of the house is provided by a set of fireplaces, that, according to the architect, mean no danger to the highly flammable material of the walls. Koff utilized a technology that compresses straw bales so tightly that they begin to act like any other building material, carrying the same danger factor. Although the biggest achievement of the K-House is definitely its construction material, its form and structure are also worth a mention. In accordance with the owners’ wishes, Koff applied eco-friendly solutions throughout the building. Cooling is ensured by the optimised placement of openings ensuring cross-ventilation. Solar panels placed on the top help minimising energy consumption, while the roof also contains a garden planted with local specimens from ferns to fruit trees.
Since the house is definitely outstanding technology-wise, the shape is also expected to harmonise with the hidden treasures. But it does so in a modest way; following the typology of local residences, the house is constituted of two volumes, one with two stories and a single level one. To marks its presence, the two blocks play in a stunning and minimal monochrome of black and white, resulting in a surprisingly contemporary look.
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