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The House of Water and Tones Foto: DOMY ATREA (Kateřina Raimová)

The House of Water and Tones

Can you have an entire aquatic habitat in a garden? Yes, you can. The house of water and tones already carries this idea in its name. The modern wooden building, designed in an energy-passive style and using renewable energy sources, is sensitively set into the existing development in the foothills of the Jizera Mountains. It is set in a natural garden with a nature pool, a stream and a pond in a wetland. Thanks to the view of the landscape, the singing of birds, the play of the sun, water, wind and greenery, there is a unique atmosphere to this garden.

The Adaptation Journey

The positive impact
The intention of the investors was to create a new home for an active married couple with two young children. An important requirement was the integration of the house into the landscape and the surrounding buildings. The main aspect of this project is the garden, which is divided into several diverse parts. Thanks to the bodies of water in the garden, the house and its surroundings can handle a higher level of groundwater on the land as well as surface water flowing from the field above the garden in case of torrential rains.

The aquatic habitat can retain water on the land, which will help with the expected water shortages in the future. Vegetation in the garden and aquatic habitat also have a positive effect on reducing the temperature in the area during the heatwave and supports biodiversity in the area.

The building is energy efficient, uses renewable building materials and renewable energy sources for the operation of the house.

Except to the direct positive effects, the measure also has positive influence on the wider environment and impact in the society, as it can serve as a good example and inspiration for the implementation of similar constructions.
How does it work?
The total land area for the project is about 2500 square meters, its dominant feature is the garden and the bodies of water. The owners have created a pond in the wetland from the waterlogged terrain, which holds rainwater, provides refuge for aquatic animals and insects and, thanks to the evaporation of water, has a positive effect on the surrounding microclimate.

The owners connected the nature pool with a pond in the wetland and created a partially closed circle. They saved a lot of water and ensured the cleanliness of the pool. Service water from a drilled well in the upper part of the plot is used to add water to the circle. This source can also be used to water the garden during drought. The water in the well does not meet the parameters for drinking water, so the house is connected to the public water supply.

For wastewater treatment, the owners use a biological water purification unit with filtration into the space of the area ground collector of the heat pump. All the rainwater is drained into the unit as well. This increases the efficiency of the heat pump, which leads to energy savings. Water from the filtration then replenishes the aquatic habitat.

Diverse conditions in different parts of the land attract many insects, small animals and birds. Thanks to the measures used, species diversity has increased significantly, which has a positive effect on the surrounding ecosystems.
Original state
On the site of the current house and garden, there was a broken terrain - sloping, waterlogged and difficult to use, located in a sparse development of a small village in the foothills of the Jizera Mountains at a relatively high altitude of 600 m above sea level.

The architects planned the house and garden in such a way that uses the potential of the land and they met the requirements of the investors and took into account relatively specific conditions such as land fragmentation, demanding climate conditions, existing buildings and trees in the neighbourhood, complicated ownership and last but not least the demanding requirements of building authorities and utility network administrators.
Operation and maintenance
The house and the technology used require maintenance and service common family homes. The garden initially requires normal maintenance as with a normal type of building. It takes some time for the individual plants to grow, the communities to start working together and the balance to be established. For example, ground covering plants will eventually prevent weeds from growing. The time required for the maintenance of the garden and water features is proportional to its size.
Obstacles and challenges
The biggest challenge during the project preparation was the complicated conditions of the building authorities and utility network administrators due to the subjective opinions on the aesthetic quality of the house. Therefore, the owners did not realize the original idea of water management with a root wastewater treatment plant.
Operation and maintenance
During the planning of the house, the owners considered additional shading of the west patio using a pergola. But for aesthetic reasons, they chose not to go for it. In summer, outdoor blinds are used for shading, which work well but limit movement and visual contact with the garden. For the time being, the owners use a large parasol for extra shading. In the future, however, they also plan to build a pergola.

Due to the location, it would have been appropriate to consider the use of window mosquito nets. In the House of Water and Tones, the nets were rejected during the planning and installed only afterwards, which was complicated.

With regard to the year-round use of the natural swimming pool, it is necessary to regularly clean it from mostly mechanical impurities (leaves, needles). Given the number of mature trees on the land and the surrounding area, the owners knew about it in advance. More intensive cleaning is needed in spring and autumn.

Although it seems to be a relatively common issue, the author of the design of water features and the owners did not anticipate such an intensive growth of algae in the stream. The probable cause is extremely alkaline water, leaching of nutrients from the adjacent field and fallen leaves, and excessive oxygenation of the water in the cascades. This unpleasant issue should be eliminated in the future by suitable aquatic plants, which are only gradually growing.

The owners also plan to plant plants on the flat roof.
How much did it cost?
The owners do not wish to state the total costs. To fund the project, the owners used their own funds and support in the grant program New Green to Savings in the area of support B.2 - construction of low-energy family houses.

Family and apartment houses Water purification and recycling Use of rainwater Biodiverzita Vlny horka a tepelný ostrov Povodně a přívalové srážky Nedostatek vody a sucho Zelená energie 

Pěnčín – Jistebsko, Czech Republic
2013 – 2016
Ing. arch. Zuzana Novosadová, Symbiosa – atelier architektů; Ing. Petr Halama
Daniel Petříček – Domy Petříček (under license DOMY ATREA)
Private person
Petr Dusil
„This project combines all the classic components of responsible and sustainable construction. The nature pool affects the biodiversity and accessibility of water for animals living in the garden. Uncomplicated design has the potential to speak to the general public, be innovative, and at the same time 'to not disturb'.“
Ing. arch. PhDr. Lenka Burgerová, PhD.
The expert jury member

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