Family tests Rotterdam self-sufficient home within greenhouse

When Helly Scholten was offered the opportunity to spend three years living in a home inside of a greenhouse on Rotterdam’s docklands, she immediately volunteered her family. Scholten, her partner and two teen daughters moved into the experimental home and immediately began planting the four greenhouses surrounding and atop the home in an attempt to grow enough food to feed their family.

The experimental home, built by students at Rotterdam University’s department of Applied Sciences led by architect Arjan Karssenberg, was constructed from recycled and recyclable materials. Built on stilts it can be dismantled or moved at the end of the experiment.


4 thoughts on “Family tests Rotterdam self-sufficient home within greenhouse”

  1. Helly mentions that the vents in the roof do not cause much air flow, ususally they are sensitive to wind direction.
    An old time cupola like you see on traditional barn, tends to work better, esp if you have a windvane to close off the upwind end, and cause more vacuum on the downwind side.
    And a solar chimney would help too, but even continuous ridge venting gets rid of the heat under my roof quite effectively under all wind directions.

  2. The mistakes made here could easily have been avoided. Commonly available, affordable software has been available since the 1990’s to calculate window placement to balance solar gain with thermal mass. Can’t imagine why this university didn’t use software like this.

    • Helly Scholten did say at one point in the video, that the University ran out of funds to complete the structure as they would have wished. May be they had to make do with their “best effort” in the circumstances ? If the structure was intended as a permanent residence, then a more substantial layer of loam would have been used ?

      I have found too that at this type of latitude, that the plastic sheeting used for the upper roof, even when stabilized for UV, lasts 8 years then starts to peel – so that would be the next financial milestone as regards maintenance.

      I note that Helly Scholten, obviously a very knowledgeable and articulate person, actually runs a business specializing in “living environments”. People watching your video may want to see her website at – A fascinating video – thank you as always for sharing this with us !


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