Case

The Sunhouse – an Active House for children

A new standard for use of daylight and fresh air in pedagogical environments

Solhuset (The Sunhouse) is the most climate friendly daycare centre in Denmark and contributes to both the environment surrounding it as well as to the health and comfort of the children using it.

Childcare centres and schools have a particular need for a good and healthy indoor climate as it strengthens well-being and learning capacity as well as reduces the risk of diseases for the users. The vision for Solhuset was to set new standards for future sustainable childcare centres. It rests on the Active House principles of buildings that give more than they take – to the children, adults, environment and surroundings. Solhuset has been a project founded in a public- private partnership between Hørsholm Municipality, VKR Holding and Lions Børnehuse, and it is built by Hellerup Byg in co-operation with Christensen & Co arkitekter and Rambøll. It is a unique building, self-sufficient with energy, with a healthy indoor climate and it is built as an Active House.

Daylight and fresh air
Giving plenty of daylight and fresh air to the children in daycare was a central part of the strategy for securing a healthy and good indoor climate. To live up to this goal, Solhuset was designed with high-ceilinged rooms and strategically placed windows to ensure optimum use of daylight. The sloping roof and the roof windows that open and close automatically create varied ceiling heights for good air circulation in the rooms.

Use of renewable energy
Solhuset uses renewable energy sources and is designed to produce more energy than it consumes. The sun supplies Solhuset with heat through the roof and façade windows. The windows ensures half the heat needed in wintertime. The remaining requirement for space heating and hot water is produced by a combined solar and geothermal system. Strategically placed on the south-facing roof, 50 m2 solar collectors harvest energy directly from the sun and convert it into heat and hot water, while 250 m2 solar cells convert solar energy into electricity. Solhuset was designed to produce 9 kWh per m2/year more than it is expected to consume. The surplus energy production means that in about 40 years the centre will have paid back the CO2 emitted during production of its primary building materials. That makes Solhuset CO2 neutral throughout its lifetime.

Living with nature
Solhuset contributes positively to its surroundings and interacts with nature. The childcare centre is an open and transparent building with seamless transitions between functions and between outdoors and indoors. It was designed, located, and constructed to let in nature and create closeness between indoors and outdoors. The shape, orientation and windows are optimized in relation to the plot as well as the sun in order to make maximum use of daylight and solar heat. Solhuset is triangular, like the plot it is built on, and the roof surfaces face north and south. The south-facing surfaces are steeper than those facing north to obtain the optimal angle to harvest solar energy.

  • In February 2011, the integrated childcare centre Solhuset in Hørsholm opened its doors to nearly 100 children and 30 adults.
    They now enjoy life in a healthy environment with plenty of daylight and fresh air.
  • The childcare centre has a healthy indoor climate with fresh air and 3.5 times more daylight than required by current building regulations.
  • The childcare centre is CO2 neutral in its lifetime and self-sufficient in energy through passive solar gain from windows, solar collectors, solar cells and geothermal pipes.
  • The building was designed to meet the requirements of Danish energy class 2015 (51 kWh/m2/year) even before use of renewable energy sources.

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