Bricks, cement and iron sheets have been the traditional building materials for houses. However, a Hungarian architect Matyas Gutai believes that water should be added to the list. Water as a building material for houses will enable a house be kept at comfortable temperatures. With this, the architect’s brings a whole new system of engineering to house construction.
Matyas Gutai built a house in his home town Kecskemet south of Budapest with his high school buddy Mila Berenyi after years of research and development. The house was meant to act as a prototype of the whole project. The house was built with a grant from the EU and showcases the “liquid engineering” concepts.
How it works
Panels, some of steel, and some of glass, make up the structure of the house and a sheet of water is trapped between the inner layers, which equalizes the temperature across the building. The house is actually able to reheat itself, when its hot excess heat is stored either in the foundations of the building or in external storage, to be brought back to the walls when the temperature drops.
The indoor temperature can also be modified using a monitoring system similar to central heating. This is a very efficient and sustainable system: the house can produce its own energy and be more independent of energy suppliers, which could reduce carbon emissions.
“Our panel can heat and cool the building itself — the water inside the panel does the very same job as heating,” says Gutai. “It saves energy, when you compare it to a similar building with large glass surfaces — it’s a very clean and sustainable solution.”
The initial idea
Gutai got the idea from the open air hot baths when he was studying sustainable architecture at the University of Tokyo. Gutai discovered that the pool managed to keep him warm and comfortable despite the fact that it was snowing outside the pool.
Gutai said. “As an architect I think it’s really important that this building tries to redefine permanence, which has been a key concept in architecture for thousands of years. Our approach to permanence hasn’t changed much at all, but now instead of making something very strong that tries to resist everything, we are making something that adapts to its environment.”
In regards to the risks involved Gutai explained that the project took him around six years to finally build the house and a number of structural problems and questions were raised. The questions were, “what happens if it’s so cold outside that the water freezes or what happens when one panel breaks.” Gutai explained that they mix the water with natural solvents that do not cause pollution but lower the freezing temperature to an acceptable level. This practically means that even if the reheating technology fails, the water cannot freeze and in case of cold climates, like in Hungary, they also add some external insulation to the structure, to protect it from freezing. And if a panel were to break then special joint elements allow slow flow, but block faster flows.
Gutai explains that the using water in construction of houses uses less materials and energy, the future prospects is to create a greener future.