Ancient Rome inspires 21st century sustainability


A concrete zero energy structure which took its design inspiration from the classical Roman period has been revealed by product innovators Contec.

Although it is built in Denmark the manufacturers say that similar principles reigns apply in the Middle East, as the use of materials to create stable temperatures at the lowest energy consumption possible is an important factor in hot climates.

Floor, roof and walls are all made in prefabricated sandwich elements. The house has both interior walls and exterior walls manufactured in slim UHPC panels leaving more space for the insulation material.


Energy supply for heating and cooling air/water is provided by environmentally friendly heating pumps and solar panels.

The result a maximum annual energy consumption of 0 kWh/m2. Contec said it wanted to prove the sustainable benefits from the UHPC technology in a cost effective solution. Founder Bo Serwin, who holds an architectural degree from the Aarhus School of Architecture, said that the project focused on the elimination of thermal bridges, minimising material consumption and the lowest CO2 emission from production and transport.

The wall panels have a U-value of 0.087 with a total thickness of only 350 mm of which is 300 mm insulation material. The structural section of the UHPC sandwich panel is the 30 mm interior wall with internal UHPC columns of ø 40 mm. Exterior wall is a 20 mm white UHPC providing an aesthetic and very durable and maintenance free façade.

Weight of panels is reduced to 20% of a conventional concrete sandwich panels saving cost and energy on transport and cranes.

Studies from the Danish Technical University show reduction in Co2 emission up to 60% compared to conventional concrete building systems.

The high density of the UHPC material gives the facades self-cleaning properties and are expected to have a very long life cycle.

Serwin said: “Our best reference is the Pantheon in Rome. It is 2000 years old now and the puzzolanic concrete is still healthy. We learned a lot from the Romans, we just improved it a little bit with new technologies.”



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