aim is to pass through an arctic winter in a self-sufficient
dwelling without the use of non-renewable energy.
a turning point where humanity cannot continue to practise
business as usual, inherited from the ancestral struggle for
survival, it is useful to question ourselves about the meaning
and implications of our actions. In this context, the passive
igloo questiones the themes of habitat and live.
progress when we leave our comfort zone ... and to cast off
for adventure is a good way to leave our comfort zone. Thus
we hope to progress.
passive igloo is a minimal habitat designed to serve
as a scientific base camp and dwelling to accommodate a team
of six during an arctic winter.
These conditions challenge climate protection while providing
adequate conditions for living and work in complete self-sufficiency.
energy concept is based on the complementarity of efficiency
measures (thermal insulation and heat recovery) and three
sources of energy (sun, wind, envinronmental heat). These
are coupled to storage systems (heat and electricity) and
an optimized energy management system.
can do most can do least
passive igloo is a demonstration project that illustrates
that simple and robust constructive and technical solutions
may challenge low-cost energy scarcity in a credible way.
to temperate climates, the experience feedback will be useful
to outline the habitat of tomorrow, providing more independence
and quality of life to its inhabitants.
first passive building was … a boat
igloo demonstration project celebrates Fridthof Nansen's
Fram that sucessfully passed several winters in the arctic.
Nansen's Fram in 1883
was designed and built to the standard of the best techniques
available by the middle of the 18th century. Today, the Fram
is recognised as beeing the first passive 'building'. The
demonstration projet shall remind us that heating is not a
fatality : Nansen reports that the stove proved close to useless
due to the efficiency of ... thermal insulation.
passive igloo is … a boat
are the ultimate passive machines. They combine ancient knowhow
with high tech and illustrate the enormous potential and field
for creativity in making use of renewable energy in an exemplary
way. The issue of fundamental needs is addressed in depth
(subsistence design). The 'igloo' is part of a 60 foot (19m)
sailboat and designed to serve as a scientific base camp to
accommodate a team of six during an arctic winter.
igloo demonstration project
explores the viability of single-dwelling self-sufficiency
and explores how simple and robust solutions and techniques
may succeed to eventually overcome dependence on conventional
energy sources. The objective: a self-sufficient wintering
in the artic, relying on renewable energies. The harsh conditions
(extreme cold, small size, independence, relyability) require
adaptation and optimisation of standard technology. This opens
a field of opportunities for applied research and may reveal
new useful design perspectives for the ‘dwelling of
is based on three fundamentals : autonomy, efficiency and
sobriety. These are developed hereafter.
Le 'passive igloo', concept (2018)
Images: Peter Gallinelli, Kalle Schmidt, Dorothée
Adam By Dorothée
production is based on an innovative wind-heat coupling system
: wind energy (plus some solar energy) is transformed into
electric power that is used to drive a heat-pump system making
use of heat from the 'warm' water below the ice shelf. Small
size electric and thermal heat storage systems make heating
energy available during periods without wind or sun.
specific space use, comfort requirements differ depending
on variations in space and time. The destiction into three
clearly identified thermal zones, implies specific design
strategies such as adaptation of insulation, ventilation or
thermal insulation reduces transfer heat losses to a minimum.
Without heating, the internal heat gains (body heat, cooking
and other activities) result in a living temperature inside
the “igloo” beeing 25°C above outside temperature.
evolution of granted minimum inside temperature (orange),
ambient temperature (blue) und solar radiation (yellow) for
a period ranging from winter to springtime
cold air (that may drop below -30°C) is pre-heated by
seawater (approx -2°C), before beeing processed through
a heat recovery system that takes advantage of heat from the
warm extracted air. Residual heat from exhaust air is used
to produce potable water from condensing water and by melting
snow and ice.
periods of extreme cold temperatures icing may occur around
and inside the heat exchangers requiring special techniques,
such as water stirrers, alternating exchanger plates, …
the periods of extreme cold, the energy for auxiliary heating
is provided by wind generators that are set up on the ice
shelf or on the land nearby. The electric power is transformed
into heat and stored in a water tank located in the core of
self-sufficiency and independence is almost granted. An auxiliary
heating system maybe be needed in case of an extended period
of extreme low temperatures and/or the absence of wind. In
this case, there is still the need for a solution since the
extreme climatic conditions do not allow any mistake.
evolution of boiler temperature (red), average daily ambient
temperature (blue) and energy output from wind generators
(dark blue) over 3 winters.
may be substituted with a heat pump system drawing energy
from the liquid and warm (-2°C) water below the ice shelf.
In a land-based configuration, sea water may be substituted
by fresh or ground water or ground-heat. The hat-pump adds
complexity, but reduces the number or power of wind turbines
by a factor of three.
space is designed for a crew of 10-12 during summer. However,
during the winter expedition, it is suited to accommodate
a team of 3-6. Even though comfortable, the living area is
only 5 sqm per person, which requires careful design to make
optimal use of space.
living space is designed to accommodate a crew of 10-12 during
summer or 3-6 during the winter. Even though comfortable,
the living area is only 5 sqm per person, which requires careful
design to make optimal use of space.
comfort will be adapted to the climatic conditions and the
availability of energy, complemented by technical clothing
during periods of extreme cold in absence of the sun during
the arctic winter.
A carefully handled construction avoids useless weight, therefore
saves resources and embedded energy. Altogether the weight
sums up to roughly 20 metric tons, 60% of which go to ballast
and the reinforced alloy hull. The igloo itself weighs
less than 1500kg.
95% of materials used are easily recyclable (steel, aluminium,
lead, polystyrene, wood). Useless finishing, such as decorative
painting, has been avoided.
micro-composting unit serves sewage treatment and allows for
convenient management of organic waste and other biodegradable
materials during long-term stationary settings.
unit treats sewage and organic waste and produces compost
that may eventually be used for auxiliary heating (under study).