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Maison Air et Lumière: positive energy balance in modular construction

Maison Air et Lumière by Velux is based on a modular architectural concept of the pitched roof, enabling it to be adapted to different con- texts depending on the house’s location, orientation and use. The house combines three volumes fitted into one another, a design that contributes to the quality and variety of the interior. The pitched roof is part of France’s cultural heritage. Roof pitches vary in steepness according to region and climate – and to meet the need for light and solar gain. This also allows a wide variety of interior spaces to suit per- sonal preferences.


Architectural concept

The architecture of Maison Air et Lumière is adapted harmoniously to its site. The slope of the site is used to organize the floor levels, creating an intermediate level between the garden level and the upper floor. In addition to this integration to the site, the modular concept of the house allows adaptation to create variants to suit other contexts, such as terraced or urban houses.

Whether the house is small or large, in town or in the country, the flexibility of the concept enables the type and number of modules to be varied, making it possible to transpose the principles of comfortable living, energy efficiency and environmental quality of Maison Air et Lumière to a wide range of contexts.

The 130 m² floor area extends over one and a half storeys, with the spaces under the roof put to full use. Maison Air et Lumière, using a design principle that integrates architectural quality and energy efficiency, manages to place the emphasis on interior comfort whilst respecting the energy and environmental objectives for new detached houses for 2020.


Active House principles

Maison Air et Lumière complies with the Active House principles where the three main principles of energy, indoor climate and environment are actively integrated in the design of buildings.

This Active House radar shows how all parameters within each principle are balanced against each other, enabling the holistic approach and overview to sustainable buildings.

First edition for Active House radar diagram evaluation, based on Specification 1.0 published in April 2011. The radar diagramme shown is based on as well theoretical assumptions and calculations based on input from the project team, and generalized. The evaluation reflects work in progress.


Indoor climate

Daylight. Particular attention has been paid to daylight to ensure the physical and psychological health and well-being of the residents, and to enlarge the visual perception of the indoor spaces whilst saving energy by reducing the need for artificial lighting. The amount of daylight and the quality of its distribution have been studied scientifically using Velux Daylight Visualizer 2.

Ventilation. According to the season and weather conditions, ventilation is provided by a hybrid system that combines the advantages of mechanical ventilation with heat recovery in winter and, in summer, natural ventilation by window opening (supplemented by mechanical extraction in bathroom and kitchen).



Energy design

The energy concept of Maison Air et Lumière is based on the maximum use of renewable resources (solar energy, natural light, fresh air) in order to minimise the need for airconditioning in summer, to reduce heating in winter and to reduce artificial lighting.

The combination means a neutral environmental impact and maximum comfort for the residents. The house, which is built on a concrete slab on an earth platform insulated on the underside, is constructed with a well-insulated wooden frame and with a window-floor ratio of nearly 1:3 (calculated according to national standards).

With its interplay of roof structures, the building is compact and very well insulated and, in order to create a stable and comfortable room temperature, the interior walls are lined with terracotta tiles, appreciably improving the thermal inertia of the building. The efficiency of the insulation combined with the recovery of free internal heat and solar gains through the windows will make it possible to reduce the heating demand to a minimum. Heating and hot water  are provided by a heat pump connected to Velux thermal solar panels and a low temperature underfloor heating system.

The artificial lighting, domestic appliances and multimedia equipment were selected on the basis of their low consumption. Moreover, to reduce electricity consumption further, the washing machine and dishwasher can be directly connected to a cold and hot water inlet.

All electric power consumption will be offset by the contribution from 35 m² of photovoltaic panels integrated in the roof. In normal use of the building, the overall energy balance is positive.


Author: Velux. Ecoconstruction India 1st issue. February 2013.

2013/01/08 by Gloria Llopis