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GREEN BOX, the sustainable Garden-House of the future, Construmat 2009, 20th to 25th April


The architect Luis de Garrido is presenting his latest sustainable home prototype, GREEN BOX, in New York city (Tuesday 21st April, GLASSHOUSE Museum, Chelsea Arts Tower, 545 West 25th Street). The home will be built in Barcelona to celebrate the Construmat 2009 International Construction Fair (being presented on 20th April, and exhibited from 20th to 25th April, in the Gran Via venue. Palacio 1. Av. Joan Carles I, 58. Fira de Barcelona)



Por: Domótica Viva


  • GREEN BOX is the first modular Garden-House that is prefabricated, reusable, transportable, has an infinite life cycle, is bioclimatic, has zero energy consumption, and does not generate waste.

  • Thanks to its advanced characteristics, GREEN BOX will be built in just 15 days (from 4th to 19th April), and the process can be seen in real time on the Internet.

  • Inside the building there is a Multimedia Exhibition on Projects about Sustainable Architecture and Social Housing, by Luis de Garrido (ISBA’s “Architect of the Year 2008”): “Artificial Nature VI”


The National Association for Sustainable Architecture (ANAS), together with the National Association for the Home of the Future (ANAVIF) and the National Directorate of Companies for Sustainable Architecture (DINAS) is presenting next 20th April this special home which, without a doubt, will be the center of attention at Construmat 2009.

Designed by the architect Luis de Garrido (recently chosen as “Architect of the Year 2008” by the International Steel Building Association ISBA, and American Institute of Architects AIA), the home could be an international benchmark in sustainable architecture, as it comprehensively meets all of the known sustainable indicators. In fact, Luis de Garrido states that GREEN-BOX is the building that is nearest to his conceptual architectural model of “Artificial Nature”.


In addition to its totally ecological character, the home is very economical: Building it costs half what a conventional building would cost (about 550 euros m2), so that it could become a building model for the new social and economic system.

The building’s architectural structure is totally flexible. The building’s interior is completely diaphanous, and its architectural structure enables any kind of indoor compartmentalizing. The home may thus become an office, a residence, apartments, a museum, exhibition hall, etc. Similarly, the home may be extended, reduced or modified simply and with no need for building work, nor any waste generation.

The home has zero conventional energy consumption, and regulates itself thermally through its bioclimatic design and optimum use of geothermal and solar energy. In the same way, the home’s design and construction has been carried out with the aim of reducing its energy consumption to a minimum in both its building process and its dismantling process.

All of the building’s components have been designed in a modular way to be dry-assembled. Thus, just as occurs in building it, dismantling it does not generate any waste and all of its parts can be used again.

As a result, by repairing or replacing each one of the parts, the building has an infinite life cycle. That is to say, its useful life is infinite.

The supporting structure of the homes has been made with prefabricated panels of reinforced concrete, sandwich panels of cement-wood, and metallic panels. The purpose of all of this is to show in one building the three most suitable systems of modular construction (steel, wood, concrete). 

Nevertheless, in spite of all of the characteristics described, no doubt the most important and unique feature of GREEN BOX is the landscaped, sloping garden roof and the vertical garden.

Both gardens have been made with autochthonous Mediterranean plant species, which ensures that they hardly need water (just rainwater) and their beauty is permanent, every day of the year. Of course they do not need maintenance.  

The sloping garden-roof enables the building to be integrated into any environment, since it becomes established as an extension to the surrounding ground. On the other hand, the vertical garden stands proud, becoming the home’s identifying hallmark. The same vertical garden is to be found in the home’s interior patio.

Thanks to its advanced characteristics, GREEN BOX will be built in just 15 days, in the city of Barcelona. It will be dismantled in 7 days and transported to Toledo, where it will be definitively installed.


Multimedia exhibition “Artificial Nature VI”

Inside, the home houses an exhibition on Projects involving sustainable architecture and sustainable social housing, over a total area of 200 m2. In this exhibition, through 10 video projectors and multimedia effects, the conceptual bases of sustainable architecture are shown, as well as new low-cost sustainable social housing proposals of great added value.

This is a selection of 70 architectural projects created by the architect Luis de Garrido over the last eight years: single family homes, housing blocks, social housing, urban estates, urban recycling activities, office buildings, unique buildings, hotels, skyscrapers, bridges…  

It is a multimedia exhibition: 10 projectors continuously show the different projects on semi-transparent methacrylate panels. In this way the viewer can concentrate on just one projector or have a complete idea as a whole. Moreover, as the screens are semi-transparent the projects can be seen from both sides. This enables the visitor to make the most of their short tour and to see on leaving what they did not have time to see on entering.


On each one of the screens an endless video is continuously projected, showing a set of interactive images, photographs, infographics, videos, sketches, and general information on each one of the 70 projects examined. Each one of the static images is shown for two seconds, and the dynamic images (videos) last 20 seconds.  On each screen there are two loudspeakers that inform the nearby visitors about the characteristics of the projects shown there.

Each one of the videos lasts a total of 10 minutes. Thus, throughout the day each video will be shown 50 times. In this way, each visitor may have a different perception of the same exhibition.

It should be taken into account that each one of the videos shows a different set of projects and lasts a different time, so that each screen has a different pace of repetition.  Therefore, the same combination of images is never repeated, and if the same person were to visit the exhibition several times they would never see the same.

Each projector shows a certain kind of sustainable architecture project, so that each visitor can choose the one that most interests them. 

Projector 1: 

Low-cost one-family homes

Projector 2: 

Medium-cost one-family homes

Projector 3: 

High-cost one-family homes

Projector 4: 

Experimental homes

Projector 5: 

Collective housing and urban estates

Projector 6: 

Government protected housing

Projector 7: 


Projector 8: 

Unique buildings

Projector 9: 

Eco-urban planning, and large-scale activities

Projector 10: 


The exhibition includes such emblematic projects as: R4House, Vitrohouse, Green-Box, Pontmare Skyscrapers, La Llum Skyscrapers, Ecopolis 3000, Casa Mariposa house, Sayab, Tecnópolis, Berimbau Lighthouse, Mondragón Complex, Lliri Blau, etc…

Projector 7 will be showing details of the GREEN BOX prototype, including the building process followed over the 15 days that were taken to build it.

GREEN-BOX has the highest possible level of sustainability

The prototype complies perfectly with the 5 basic pillars on which Sustainable Architecture rests:

  1. Optimization of resources and materials

  2. Reduction of waste and emissions to the environment

  3. Reduction of energy consumption and use of renewable energies

  4. Improvement of human quality of life and health

  5. Reduction in the building’s price of construction and maintenance


1. Optimization of resources and materials 

Use of recovered, reused and recycled materials.

All of the materials used in GREEN BOX are reused and recycled. In the same way, all of the materials can be recovered, reused and recycled. With no exceptions whatsoever.

All of the prototype’s components can be used again and again, so that their life cycle is infinite.

Zero toxicity.
The materials used do not have any kind of emission nor substance harmful to the environment.

High durability.
The prototype has infinite durability since it can be easily repaired.


2. Reduction of waste and emissions  

In manufacturing the materials
In obtaining the materials that make up GREEN BOX no type of waste nor emissions have been generated. 

In building the prototype
No kind of waste will be generated in setting up the prototype. The parts will simply be put in place by pressure, gravity or cable ties, so that all the components can be recovered and reused again.

In the building’s useful life.
There is no waste nor emissions during the prototype’s useful life.

In dismantling
The prototype has been designed in such a way as not to generate any waste upon dismantling. All of the materials will remain intact and ready to be used again as many times as necessary.

3. Reduction of energy consumption and use of renewable energies.

Obtaining materials
All of the materials have been chosen due to their low energy cost. In addition, as all the materials are pre-fabricated, the necessary energy consumption has been reduced to a minimum. 

Minimum energy is going to be used since a modular building system has been employed. For this reason, a team of only 5 people will be needed to set it up.   

Dismantling is very simple and consumes very little energy, since the parts only have to be removed in reverse order from which they were placed upon setting up. 

Transport of the material and workforce
The materials and workforce will be from Barcelona. There is no need for specialized labor. 

Useful life
It can be said that an infinite useful life has been achieved for the prototype, since if any part breaks it is simply repaired or replaced with an alternative.



4. Improvement of human quality of life and health 

There are no emissions harmful to people, animals or the environment at any stage of manufacture of any of the prototype’s parts, nor during its useful life (if it is built to be permanent), nor in dismantling it.  

5. Reduction in the building’s price of construction and maintenance

The prototype’s maintenance costs are very low. The only maintenance in the short term is cleaning.  As for cleaning staff, this has not been necessary for the prototype.


1.1. Heat generation systems

The home heats itself up in two ways: 1. Avoiding cooling down: due to high thermal insulation, and with large glass surface areas only to the south. 2. Through careful and special bioclimatic design, and its perfect N-S orientation, the home heats up by means of the greenhouse effect, direct solar radiation, and heating through a solar radiating floor. It also stays warm for a long time, owing to its high heat capacity.

1.2. Cold generation systems

The home cools down by itself, in three ways: 1.  Avoiding heating up: by having most of the glass surface area facing south and hardly east, by having solar protections for direct or indirect solar radiation (a different type of protection for each one of the recesses with a different orientation), and by having suitable insulation. 2. Cooling down through an architectural air cooling system by means of underground galleries.  In addition, due to the building’s high heat capacity, the coolness accumulated overnight is maintained throughout nearly the whole of the following day. 3. By letting hot air out of the building through the upper windows of the central indoor patio. The sloping shape of the roof encourages natural convection and provides an effective “chimney effect” to extract hot air from inside the building.

In addition, the main central tower is covered with cement-wood panels. On heating up these panels through the effect of solar radiation, the air indoors heats up. On heating up, this air rises and escapes through perforations in the panels. Thus, a suction current is created, which extracts the home’s re-heated air. In this way, the home stays cools at all times.


1.3. Accumulation systems (heat or coolness)

Heat generated during the day in winter accumulates in the suspended floors and the load-bearing walls, keeping the home warm during the night. In the same way, coolness generated during the night in summer accumulates in the suspended floors and the load-bearing walls, keeping the home cool during the day. The landscaped roof has a high heat capacity, which reinforces this process.

1.4. Transference systems (heat or coolness).

Heat generated by the greenhouse effect and natural radiation spreads out in the form of hot air through the whole building from the central greenhouse. In the same way, the radiating floor heating system is spread out over the whole house. The heat built up in the load-bearing walls is transmitted to the side rooms by radiation.

The fresh air generated in the underground galleries spreads out over the home by means of a set of grilles distributed through the home’s forging. This current of air cools all of the home’s rooms.

1.5. Natural ventilation

The building is ventilated continually and naturally through the outer walls themselves, which allows for adequate ventilation without energy losses. This kind of ventilation is possible is possible because all of the materials used are breathable (ceramics, natural insulation, concrete panels, cement-wood panels, organic paints).

An infinite life cycle

All of the components of GREEN BOX have been designed to be dry-assembled using screws, nails and by applying pressure. They can thus be easily extracted from the building in order to be repaired, reused or replaced. In this way, the building can last ad infinitum, at a very low energy cost.

Re-use and transportability

All of GREEN BOX’s features (even the sloping garden and the vertical garden) have been designed so as to be easily assembled and taken apart indefinitely. This is why these features can be transported anywhere to be easily assembled (in less than a week) as many times as necessary.

Construction report. Ecological features

1. Foundations

Prefabricated reinforced concrete panels.

2. Horizontal structure

Prefabricated reinforced concrete panels, assembled together by means of screwed-in metal profile sections. Screwed-in metal profile sections.

3. Interior coverings

Wood panels, panelate, polycarbonate, ECO panels, methacrylate, and GEA ecological paints.

4. Layout features

Polycarbonate, methacrylate and reinforced concrete panels.

5. Façade

Ventilated façade using extrusion-molded ceramics held in place by means of folded metal plate profile sections. Façade installations made of recycled paper towels from aeroplanes, and plastic bottles.

6. Floorings

Ecological parquet treated with oils and FSC wood. ECO panels.

7. Paints

GEA ecological paints with water dissolvent, without biocides, organic pigments and high CPV.

8. Insulation

Façade installations made by recycling paper towels from aeroplanes, and plastic bottles. Insulation of sheep’s wool, hemp and wood fiber.

9. Outside coverings and sunshades for the windows

IPE wood treated with Borax salts and finishings based on lasures.

10. Outside carpentry

Hazelnut laminated wood carpentry.

11. Glass

Double-glazing (6-10-4) with an air chamber.

12. Roofing

Landscaped roofing with insulation made of wood fiber (8cm), waterproofing Sopralene sheet, a filter sheet of unweaved synthetic fiber, geo-textile drainage sheet, and a substratum of vegetation (40% sand, 60% plant waste).

13. Finishings and guttering

Galvanized plate lacquered in red.

14. Vertical garden structure

50 X 50 cm net panels that can be taken down, to hold vegetation and the hydroponic watering system.

15. Vertical garden

Vegetation species adapted to the Mediterranean, with hydroponic watering.

16. Sloping garden (of the roof garden)

Species of vegetation that are native to the Mediterranean, with no need for watering (lavender, rosemary, thyme,…)

17. Lighting

Exclusively LED lighting shall always be used. 

18. Plumbing facilities

Polypropylene pipes.

19. Bathroom fittings

Polyethylene pipes.

20. Electrical installations

Polypropylene pipes and cables free of halogenous material.

21. Solar heating system

Solar heat collectors for producing S.H.W.

22. Boilers and solar-heated floor

Condensing boilers and high performance solar collectors.

23. Geothermal system

Geothermal system by means of piles, integrated with a solar system and condensing boilers.


The most notable innovations in GREEN BOX

An infinite life cycle

All of the components of GREEN BOX have been designed to be dry-assembled using screws, nails and by applying pressure. They can thus be easily extracted from the building in order to be repaired, reused or replaced. In this way, the building can last ad infinitum, at a very low energy cost.

Transportability. By separate pieces

All of GREEN BOX’s features (even the sloping garden and the vertical garden) have been designed so as to be easily assembled and taken apart indefinitely. This is why these features can be transported anywhere to be easily assembled (in less than a week) as many times as necessary.

Complete elimination of waste

The GREEN BOX components have been factory-made, without generating any waste. In the same way, it is assembled without generating waste and dismantled without generating waste. The keys to achieving this are: Absolute industrialization, the design of the assembly system, and the compositional layout system employed in designing the architecture as a whole.

All of GREEN BOX’s features (even the sloping garden and the vertical garden) have been designed so as to be easily assembled and taken apart indefinitely.

Extreme flexibility

Due to its design, GREEN BOX can be extended, reduced, or even adopt other kinds of architectural configurations. Similarly, GREEN BOX’s interior is diaphanous and has been designed to adopt any possible compartmental layout and spatial reconfiguration.

Total industrialization

All of GREEN BOX’s components have been made in different factories. These components have been put together at the building’s location, to create the building. Not one component has been made “in situ”. Of course, this means its is essential to carry out a good architectural project.

High degree of bioclimatism

GREEN BOX has been designed to have the best possible bioclimatic behavior. That is to say, the building heats up as much as possible by itself in winter, and cools down as much as possible by itself in summer. All of this is achieved without apparatus. It simply occurs because of the architectural design and at no additional cost.

Energy self-sufficiency

GREEN BOX consumes zero conventional energy.

GREEN BOX heats up in winter by means of a combination of 3 different systems:

  1. Proper bioclimatic design

  2. Incorporation of a system of solar collectors (for the S.H.W and heating via radiating floor)

  3. Incorporation of an economical and ingenious architectural system of geothermal energy

Similarly, GREEN BOX cools down in summer by means of a combination of 2 different systems:

  1. Proper bioclimatic design

  2. Incorporation of an economical and ingenious architectural system of geothermal energy

The extraordinarily low energy lighting (leds) and the highly efficient electrical appliances are supplied by the electricity generated by the photovoltaic collectors.

The energy necessary to heat the radiating floor and sanitary hot water comes from a combination of a geothermal system and a solar system. It is not necessary to use any other system, nor a connection to the electrical grid. GREEN BOX is a self-sufficient building.

Double vertical garden (on both sides of one wall)

This is the first example of a vertical garden on both sides of a wall. Apart from the attractive shapes, the system provides a perfect balance between insulation, heat capacity, breathability, oxygenation, and lighting. In fact, this is an early step in how to handle features of live vegetation as architectural surrounds and structural architectural compositional features.

Vertical garden that can be dis-assembled and transported by modules

The double vertical garden has been built from cellular polyethylene panels, screwed to a metal structure that holds it. Thus, each panel of vegetation can be composed separately in the greenhouse (to control its design and stimulate growth of the species of vegetation), and moved to the building when necessary (with the plants fully grown). Similarly, each vegetation panel can be taken away from the building in order to be moved elsewhere, repaired and reused as many times as one should wish.

Design of the landscaped roof’s autochthonous garden

The landscaped roof has been planned based on autochthonous plant species, which will hardly consume water.  The garden’s design is inspired by the eternal fight between Tiger and Dragon, the balance between the Yin and Yang that symbolizes human activity on Earth. It is a hint that symbolizes GREEN BOX’s desire to provide a sensible road towards achieving another kind of architecture. This architecture should enable a balance between living beings, and the balance of living beings with the planet.

Design of the sloping landscaped roof as continuity of the surrounding grounds (100% edification – 100% green zone)

One of the aims of GREEN BOX’s design is to give the home a landscaped roof that can be passed by as if it were continuing the land. This is why a landscaped roof has been planned at a 12º inclination that stretches to ground level. Thus, passers-by can walk comfortably and even have access to the roof. In other words, GREEN BOX enables building a construction that occupies land 100% and at the same time guarantees a 100% green zone.

Reversible interior design

All of GREEN BOX’s indoor finishings are reversible. That is to say, they can easily be withdrawn, recuperated and replaced. All of the fittings have been put together under pressure or with screws. Hence they can easily be repaired and replaced. This concept is also extended to the bathroom and kitchen fittings, sanitary fittings and kitchen furniture.

The interior design has been inspired by the 12 signs of the European zodiac and the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. This hint symbolizes the desired balance between the Earth and the Cosmos that one aims to achieve with this prototype. The signs of the zodiac have been illustrated by means of backlit perforations on the inner surfaces. The golden light from the finishings contrasts with the blue of the indoor sky, creating a dreamy, mystic atmosphere that welcomes meditation and reflection. A perfect frame for the “Artificial Nature VI” exhibition.

Use of new ecological products

In constructing GREEN BOX, new recently manufactured products have been used that are very innovative (insulation from recycled aeroplane towelettes, insulation from recycled glasses, insulation from recycled glass bottles, ECO panels from recycled glass, screws, scrap metal,…panelate, polycarbonate panels molded by extrusion, ecological GEA paints, etc.

A transportable structure made with concrete panels and metal plate profiles

The construction system used in GREEN BOX based on screwed-in structural features (concrete panels, metal plate profiles) allows it to be transported with no need for special transport.

Transportable foundations

The prototype’s very foundations have been made by means of a double layer of reinforced concrete slabs. The reinforced concrete slabs are joined to one another by means of screwed together metal plate profiles. In this way, two things are achieved. Firstly, an underground air chamber is created that allows ventilation air to be cooled in summer (and ventilation air to be heated in winter). Secondly, if it is decided to take down the building, it allows for the building to be moved to another place. No trace is left of the building, since even the foundations can be transported. This is a 100% sustainable building, which leaves no trace.

Low price

The building system used enables construction costs to be cut by up to 50%. This makes it a construction model for the new social and economic order for the coming years.











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