Energy Box house boasts low-energy footprint


September 9, 2013

Energy Box was completed earlier this year (Photo: Pierluigi Bonomo)

Energy Box was completed earlier this year (Photo: Pierluigi Bonomo)

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Following the earthquake which struck L'Aquila, Italy, on April 6 2009, Pierluigi Bonomo was tasked with building a replacement home for a family. The architect produced a three floor property, dubbed Energy Box, which features an unusual wooden box-like design, and energy-reducing technologies including passive ventilation, and photovoltaic panels.

Energy Box measures 300 sq m (3,230 sq ft) and features a living room, three bedrooms, a bathroom, a multi-functional room, and a garage. The home incorporates stone reclaimed from the site of the owner's previous house, but is a wholly new structure at a different location. Unlike the Woodcube, it's only the outer facade that's made from wood, not the entire building.

Bonomo reports that though Energy Box doesn't operate completely off-grid, but its low energy requirements ensure that the running costs and carbon footprint are kept low. The technology used to achieve this includes a southeast-facing solar paneled facade, a solar thermal hot water system with heat pump, and rainwater storage.

Wooden plank cladding affords thermal protection in winter, and the south-facing side also has large gaps inbetween the planks in order to allow natural daylight to filter through to the interior. Energy Box also sports an mechanical ventilation system with integrated heat-exchanger that's claimed to be very efficient.

The materials used in the build included wood, gypsum, wood fiber, and reclaimed steel and stone taken from demolition sites.

Construction of Energy Box began in 2011, and the home was completed earlier this year.

Source: Pierluigi Bonomo via Archilovers

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

It seems that the Human Condition must be assimilated, must conform, must be pressed into constant newly determined parameters and the end result is amazing for us Worker Bees. In this setting, are we eating bugs too, or is it Solent Green?

This thing does indeed look like a beekeeper's bee condo. That might be nice for the beekeeper and the bees, but I get the hives just thinking that something like that could replace a bungalow across the street from me.

Maybe I just don't get the Buzz? Being but a simple thawed out Caveman, these new and fangled designs scare me.


In my opinion, why does something so green and energy efficient have to look so ugly? I applaud the architect's talent and ingenuity but I question building this eyesore in such a lovely location. Regardless of its latest technological advances, a home like this in most nice neighborhoods would bring down home values and/or bring out the homeowner association fashion police.


I am curious as to why it took so long to build. What was the cost/foot? Why was the little stone wall built? It makes the house look like it was built inside of a ruin. How cost effective is the PV? (Payback time?) Why stop at partly energy independent? Lack of technology? Total independence is possible, see Rocky Mountain Institute.

Using reclaimed material is very appealing to a frugal person like myself. I wonder how much cost was cut.

Don Duncan

I like the design (being old!!!!) and it looks solid to overcome the visual effects of the earthquake. The uses of natural and recycled material also appeals to me. Overall I was impressed as it did not claim to be stand alone but a reasonable energy conserving system


Mind bogglingly ugly, no windows to see out of, and the environmental footprint of photovoltaic is terrible. Environmental feelgoodism at its best.

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