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Silvergrass House. Microdome heated with miscanthus briquettes

10 of February '23

Jakub Gasek and Kornelia Nejmanska from the Faculty of Architecture at Poznan University of Technology also took part in the fifth edition of the international MICROHOME competition organized by the Buildner platform. Their minimalist design for the Silvergrass House using giant miscanthus briquette as the main heating source was shortlisted for the competition!

The annual international MICROHOME competition, was held for the fifth time in cooperation with Archive Books. The initiative aims to highlight the advantages of small-scale architecture.

The competition task was to design a home for a hypothetical young working couple. The organizers did not specify a specific location for the project—ultimately, the house should be versatile enough to be built in different latitudes. Besides, the only strict limitation was on the building area, which could not exceed 25 square meters. The organizers of the competition encouraged to include energy-efficient solutions in the competition design, reducing construction costs and minimizing the negative impact on the environment.

Silvergrass House

The central part of the house is centered around the chimney

© Jakub Gasek, Kornelia Nejmańska

Poznan University of Technology students' project on the short list

We wrote about the results of the competition and the full lineup as part of the double-winning Grounded House project by Alicja Adela Jarochowska and Aleksandra Musiał, architecture students at the Warsaw University of Technology.Meanwhile, the list of shortlisted projects included projects from Poland: [Re]build by Ewelina Rybus, for which she proposed Ukraine as the location, and Silvergrass House by Jakub Gasek and Kornelia Nejmańska.

To be honest, we took part in the competition because we wanted to further stimulate our creativity and see what interesting things we could come up with. Kuba and I have known each other since high school, from drawing school. I think we each have a slightly different approach and style, it certainly brings a lot of good to the project. Slivergrass House was our joint work and also the first competition work we did. During the whole design process we had a lot of ideas, and thanks to the fact that we have a slightly different way of thinking, we managed to find new solutions," says Kornelia.

Dom Silvergrass

The form of the house is shaped by a strongly marked chimney

© Jakub Gasek, Kornelia Nejmanska

Slivergrass House

From the beginning of the design process, the students' main goal was to solve the problem of heating a single-family house, which is usually the most energy-intensive aspect of its operation. Therefore, the form of the house is shaped primarily by the presence of the chimney, which the authors decided not to hide.

The chimney became one of the main elements of the relatively simple composition, which refers to the archetype of a single-family house, the authors add.

Silvergrass House, przekrój rzut

Silvergrass House, cross-section and projection

© Jakub Gasek, Kornelia Nejmanska

The front part of the house is devoid of windows, which from the outside, the designers say, gives it a somewhat mysterious character. Daylight comes in through a large glazing in the living room and two smaller windows in the kitchen and bedroom. The interior has been planned flexibly—the kitchen and bathroom are permanently set in the center, while the living room and bedroom have an open feel, and their layout can be customized.

Miskant olbrzymi

giant miscanthus

© Miya.m, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Miscanthus briquette heating

We wanted to find a sustainable and renewable energy source that would be used to heat the house, but also support kitchen and bathroom installations. The choice fell on giant miscanthus (silvergrass), which is a biomass plant with high energy potential and relatively low climate and soil requirements. Its cultivation is not complicated, requiring only basic fertilization, and the irrigation provided by precipitation in a temperate climate zone is sufficient. Using a shredder and briquetting machine, the annual harvest can be turned into briquette cubes, which are fully suitable for burning in a fireplace. The size of the plantation needed to fully heat the designed house year-round depends on the location of the potential plot, but we calculated that in Polish climatic conditions it would be between 130 and 160 square meters, the authors explain.

Silvergrass House, plantacja

Silvergrass House, plantation

© Jakub Gasek, Kornelia Nejmanska

fireplace the heart of the house

In the design, the kitchen stove and the boiler for heating water are part of a central module, the main element of which is the fireplace. The entire system is located in the main part of the house, which facilitates the even distribution of heat and creates a clear functional division of the interior. Other features the designers included in the module include a place for storing briquettes, water tanks divided into a toilet, sink and shower, and a filter for rainwater collected from the roof.

Silvergrass House, aksonometria

Silvergrass House, axonometry

© Jakub Gasek, Kornelia Nejmanska

In selecting the building materials, the authors were guided by environmental and color neutrality. The structure consists of insulated wood frame walls finished with recycled plywood panels on the inside and plastic facade panels on the outside. The roof is supported by OSB boards and wooden rafters. The central module introduces a slight contrast in the interior and is finished with recycled PVC panels.

Dobrawa Bies

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