The Effizienzhaus Plus (or Efficiency House Plus, if your German’s a little rusty) was first developed and built in Berlin in 2011, the project funded by the government. Since that initial success, the Effizienzhaus Plus has been reincarnated by architects multiple times in multiple different forms, both in concept sketches and in reality. Which begs the question: what makes an Effizienzhaus Plus an Effizienzhaus Plus if it can look however you want it to look? And, in addition, why would the state invest in this particular venture?
Well, the answer to both of these queries is quite simple: the Effizienzhaus Plus is an energy-saving miracle. Other eco-homes may be designed to have a neutral carbon footprint, or very close to it, but the Effizienzhaus Plus actually generates double what it uses. That means that once it’s finished producing what it needs to power the house itself and all its functions, there’s enough left over to charge an electric car. The house comes heavily equipped with solar panels, as you might expect, but where it differs from most other eco-homes is in the battery it uses to store excess energy so nothing goes to waste.
OK, so that all sounds pretty exciting from an environmental responsibility point of view. But is it liveable? Well, BDMP’s Effizienzhaus Plus in Bökelberg, Germany, offers pretty compelling evidence that is – it really, really is.
The facade of this building does not necessarily betray that it’s an eco-home, though in fact that protruding upper area houses a collection of solar panels. Certainly, this view of the house conveys efficiency; there is a neat, almost stereotypically German economy at work here. But at the same time, no-one could accuse the architects of this building of privileging function over design; the clean, block-like forms that make up the place’s form give it a pleasingly childish, toy town quality that is every bit as visually appealing as it is practical.
Here, safely shielded from public view, it’s possible to make use of oversized windows to fill the house with natural light.
This spacious terrace provides an additional outdoor space, perfect for barbecues and relaxed breakfasts. The area that hosts the solar panels also serves to shade people below on sunny days.
Inside the house, everything is as smart, orderly and, well, efficient as you would probably expect. White walls and pale wooden floors maintain the simple and economical (but never cheap) aesthetic so effectively established by the exterior of the house. Red accents here are there provide an additional visual reference to the house’s facade, and the red door that gives it such a particular character of its own.
Like the rest of the house, the stairs are functional and understated but are not without their own modest charm.
There’s no need to cut corners to live an energy-efficient lifestyle; this kitchen is fully outfitted with all the facilities you would find in a less ethically accountable home (and it looks good as well as being good). Here, too, points of red help hold the house’s look together.
This glass divider, which serves as a barrier to the stairs, offers another allusion to the rigid geometry of the house’s exterior design.
Last but very, very far from least, the room where you’ll really feel the benefit of all that surplus energy your house has managed to produce for you: the sauna. And thanks to that beautiful big window, you can watch the world go by while you sweat it out.