A New Wave of Passive Home Design

6 unique interpretations of the passive house trend around the globe.

Traditionally popular in Germany, ultra-low energy passive houses, with their small ecological footprints and increasingly aesthetically pleasing designs, are now being mimicked in urban and rural settings around the world. Take a look at these six unique interpretations of the passive-house trend around the globe.


Following the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, the “Energy Box” passive house, designed by architect Pierluigi Bonomo, was constructed within the remaining walls of a stone home. Earthquake-resistant, cross-laminated timber surrounds the house, protecting it from future disturbances.

Courtesy Energy Box/Pierluigi Bonomo

More from Metropolis

Courtesy Energy Box/Pierluigi Bonomo

Courtesy Energy Box/Pierluigi Bonomo


Clad in Kebony wood, this traditional 1930s Scandinavian Funkis “functionalist style” house was modernized and refurbished in line with passive house standards in 2015. Kontur architects exploited the leftover wood to create sustainable bird houses as well as storage and plant boxes.

Courtesy Lasse Haldrup Juul

Courtesy Lasse Haldrup Juul

South Africa

With a design based on passive solar principles, this Great Karoo desert home, by Openstudio Architects, is equipped with adjustable shutters to screen sunlight in the summer and dark brick floors to capture it in the winter. The home’s position is ideal for stargazing, allowing residents to view star constellations from inside or out.

Courtesy Louis Botha

Courtesy Richard Davies

Courtesy Richard Davies

United States of America

New York City’s huge housing market has created more than a dozen certified passive houses, but only one certified passive project in a landmarked district. The four-story Brooklyn Heights Passive House, by Baxt Ingui Architects, provides a quiet and comfortable living space for its residents amid the city’s commotion.

Courtesy Peter Peirce

Courtesy Peter Peirce

New Zealand

Built according to passive house standards, and with heat-tight, energy-efficient interiors, the George House combats the cold Wanaka winters without breaking the bank with energy costs. Designed by Rafe Maclean Architects, it is the first certified passive house on New Zealand’s South Island and the country’s eighth certified home overall.

Courtesy Simon Devitt


Designed by developers Simone Kreutzer and Tommy Wesslund, Villa Circuitus is Sweden’s first round passive house. Surrounding the home’s veranda is a balustrade with integrated solar panels that makes the home self-sufficient for most of the year.

Courtesy Anders Bergön

Courtesy Anders Bergön

Recent Projects