ZEB Pilot House
A family home out of the ordinary


Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture


Plus House Larvik is a pilot project on a family house out of the ordinary. By optimizing architectural qualities and technological solutions, the house serves both the living and energy needs of a family house, in addition to generating enough energy surpluses to power an electric car year-round.

The house is the result of a collaboration between the architecture and design firm Snøhetta, Scandinavia’s largest independent research body SINTEF, Zero Emission Building (ZEB) partner Brødrene Dahl, and Optimera. The project describes a single family house, however, the building is primarily intended for use as a demonstration platform to facilitate learning.

Technical details

Residential, Sustainability
Larvik, Norway

Optimera and Brødrene Dahl (Saint Gobain)

200 m2

Photo: Paal-André Schwital

Home-like qualities

The house in the garden has a characteristic tilt towards the southeast and a sloping roof surface clad with solar panels and collectors. These elements, together with geothermal energy from energy wells in the ground, serve the house's energy needs. 

The project has a strong focus on retaining home-like qualities through non-quantifiable properties. Emotive comfort and a sense of well-being have governed the design process to the same extent as energy demands.

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Photo: Paal-André Schwital

Photo: Paal-André Schwital

Passive heating and cooling

Focus has been put on creating a homely house, and the outdoor atrium with fireplace and furnishing, surrounded by stacked firewood and bricks, contributes to this atmosphere – a feeling of cabin life in one of the world's most advanced family houses.

Daylight, views, and contact with landscape and outdoor space are reconciled with the need for balancing sealed walls and windows. Heating and cooling are solved passively by placing glass surfaces, orientation, house geometry, and volume. Materials have been chosen based on thermal characteristics, embodied energy, and their ability to contribute to a good indoor climate, air quality, and aesthetic qualities.

Photo: Paal-André Schwital

A minimum of 100% CO2 offsetting

To achieve ZEB-OM classification, the project must document and verify a minimum of 100% CO2 offsetting. Renewable energy production via photovoltaic and solar-thermal panels integrated into the building envelope enables offsetting carbon emissions generated by burning fossil fuels in power stations. By offsetting in this manner, we simultaneously reduce the emission of other greenhouse gasses. 

Focus on carbon emissions associated with building materials represents a new direction in the vital drive toward a sustainable construction industry. High environmental ambitions create new parameters in the design process. New tools are used, the academic disciplines work closer together, and the requirements for documentation are more demanding than ever. In particular, the high focus on the choice of material in early development phases is new, generating innovative design processes on a multidisciplinary level.