Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

Sustainable Ekó House takes inspiration from Brazilian indigenous nation


May 28, 2012

The Ekó House takes its inspiration from the Tupi-Guarani, one of the largest indigenous groups in Brazil

The Ekó House takes its inspiration from the Tupi-Guarani, one of the largest indigenous groups in Brazil

Image Gallery (6 images)

For its entry in the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe, a group of Brazilian architects, designers, students and researchers has taken its cues from the native Tupi-Guarani people, one of the largest aboriginal nations in Brazil. Called Ekó House, the project scales up Ikea’s self-assembling concept and combines it with solar power, rain collection, natural lighting, a dry toilet and a system to turn sewage into garden fertilizer.

The Ekó House is erected with modules made of wooden beams and pillars, oriented strand board (OSB) panels and pre-stressed steel cables that connect the modules and allow large spans with small beams. It all starts with the floor, where the wood panels are set one by one, until the top module is finally laid down. The plates fit into slots, which makes positioning more precise, and then fixing is done with screws. There’s also a flexible footing system that makes it adaptable to different types of terrain.

Team Brasil has embraced a tradition-meets-high-tech ethos. On one of hand they want the house to facilitate socializing and revive the Brazilian tradition of gathering in the kitchen, a hub of family interaction. For that purpose, the internal spaces feature flexible furnishing and dynamic layout configurations. On the other hand, the team has also envisaged an automated home with a small meteorological station on the outside and an internal monitoring device to control temperature and humidity.

Electricity is generated by 48 PV panels, with the potential to produce 10 KW, potentially thrice the amount required by the house. Another key feature is the decentralized sewage treatment. Human waste is disposed and treated in a waterless toilet while wastewater from the shower, wash basin and clothes washer will be treated with a combination of filters and macrophytes. The size of the module can be customized to the number of inhabitants of the house and the treated effluents can be used in agriculture and gardens, keeping the water in a closed loop.

For millennia, the peoples who occupied what is now Brazil lived in harmony with nature, so they may have something to teach contemporary people when it comes to sustainability. Ekó is not a variation of "eco" but means "way of living" in Tupi-Guarani. In Brazilian Indian culture the Sun had an important religious meaning and their way of life was completely integrated with the cycles of nature and the environment around them. That is why one of the key features of the house is that it can be adapted to the time of the year and the weather.

Team Brasil hopes to finish the project by July, in time for the 2012 Solar Decathlon that takes place in Madrid in September. The video below describes the concept behind the Ekó House.

Source: Ekó House

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology. All articles by Antonio Pasolini

great article which shows the world there are other ways to do things in an environmental way, thank you Antonio


Great home... what about affordability?

Mark A

Affordability? It's got the Green badge stuck all over it, everybody knows that this translates to not affordable at all.


Make it affordable and funtional in northern Maine and I'll be impressed. Solar hot water (for example) on or near the equator is just common sense. PV where the sun shines 12hrs a day wih intensity is FAR more justifiable ( not sure about the environmental impact of PV manufacturing...).


beautifully executed house for its environment ...


I dig this...make it available to the market for $50K and I'm ordering one for my land in Arizona above the largest underground natural aquifier..

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles