Soleta – the house that brings a new lifestyle
Secluded into a green oasis, somewhere in the north of Bucharest, lays Soleta zero Energy One, the prototype of a house with a particular appearance. Different, but at the same time using common traditional Romanian architectural elements, it`s impossible not to draw your attention. With an innovative design, it is an ecological house, energy independent, a real potential alternative to the houses regularly built nowadays. In addition to building a new type of home, Soleta team`s strategy implies “educating the Romanian market about the benefits that a healthy and sustainable house can offer them“.
Equipped with the right systems, Soleta can reach the point where it produces its own energy for optimal operation. It offers a more responsible and eco-friendly lifestyle and its simple design made of cosy wood perfectly fits into the natural landscape.
Nowadays, the prototype displayed in Bucharest, shown in the previous images, became the symbol of Soleta concept, which is neither replicated nor sold anymore. Serving as an inspiration and research object, it underlies the development of a new range of premium house projects – Soleta Plus – the ones that are currently released on the market. Soleta One Plus, the smallest model, has an usable area of 60 square meters, but the space progressively increases on the other models, so that Soleta Four Plus has a total usable area of 155,6 square meters, bringing, at the same time, a new architectural element – an additional level.
More details, though, are revealed by the Soleta team itself, in a short interview for Hello Romania.
The story of Soleta in a few words?
Soleta was born, probably as many other beautiful ideas, from a personal wish and need. Cătălin Butmălai, the founder of Soleta concept and constructor for over 15 years, wanted a nice and healthy home for him and his family. But the classic constructive style did not satisfy his vision and wanted to develop something new, inspired from our so long-lasting and familiar tradition, but at the same time adapted to our contemporary lifestyle. A lifestyle that needs to be more responsible towards our health and environment whose sources we use without measurement.
What does Zero Energy concept mean?
The Zero Energy concept has at the same time a complex base and the simple idea of using natural resources that are at our disposal. The airy and minimalistic design of the Soleta houses incorporates them much better in the natural landscape thanks to the natural materials used at building them and optimizes the house’s connection to the natural energy sources. We are referring at the components of the house which are over 90% natural materials, to the glazed surfaces that allow natural light to come in during a longer interval during a day, at interior finishing made with solutions based on water. And very important to mention, the performant thermic isolation of the houses. To complete their nature friendly personality, we have the Zero Energy accessories, meaning all the systems that can transform them in totally independent houses from the common utilities network. Houses that can produce their own energy, necessary to cover all the house consumption and needs of the family members, using natural resources like sun, water, wind, earth, heat. We are talking about solar panels, rain water system, geothermal heat pump and so on.
What was the impact on the Romanian market? What about abroad?
The concept was revealed 3 years ago, when the Soleta Zero Energy One was build in Bucharest. The prototype was for research and study so that we could see how we can improve the functionality of the house. The impact was positive, the public was receptive, the media made the concept popular in a very short time. But the collective mentality in Romania wasn’t ready to adopt a different design from the one we see around us every day. It created curiosity, but because of the lack of information about what an ecological house really means, people did not dare to buy such a house.
Abroad, the situation is totally different. Ecological houses are already considered as an alternative to classic houses made out of concrete & cement, the responsibility towards the environment is much more present and the wish to buy much stronger. A healthy and ecological lifestyle is no longer just a desirable etiquette that we wish to have, but a conscious choice.
Even so, our strategy implies educating the Romanian market about the benefits that a healthy and sustainable house can offer them.
Can you estimate the number of projects currently sold? (both in Romania and abroad)
After building the prototype and the buzz that followed, we gathered all the suggestions, all constructive critics and got to the conclusion that we needed to develop new house models to cover the actual current needs of the market. So we conceived the Soleta Plus range with 4 models that we launched in December 2014. We are taking into consideration the short interval from the launch and importance of the decision to buy a house, equivalent with a long term engagement like going to college or marriage. So, the number of projects gather 2 finished houses and another two in construction with the turnkey deliver term in the spring of 2016.
At this moment they are all in Romania. This couldn’t make us any happier because it means that our principles gain roots here at home and make us believe in a healthy change. Outside Romania, we receive a lot of emails from the most exotic and unexpected places (Seychelles Islands, Maldives, Malaysia) and Europe especially (France seems to be one of the most interested). We hope to begin building outside the country as soon as possible.
What kind of building materials do you use? Where are these purchased from?
Our houses are build from lamellar wood and over 90% of natural materials. We respect our green policy and try to procure the wood at a distance no longer than 100 km from the location where the house is gonna be built. By acting like this, we try to reduce the pollution caused by transportation on long distances. The rest of the materials are bought from Romanian suppliers, but also outside of the country.
What kind of systems are used in order for this house to be self-sustainable?
It’s important to mention that these systems that help the house become energetically independent work also because the entire concept of the house was conceived to help them give the best results. We are talking about solar panels for producing electricity, rain water system to obtain sewage, compost heating system of geothermal heating pump. All the necessary systems for the house are also chosen according to the location for the future house, in order to increase its natural potential. Depending on the area (sunny, rainy, windy), the soils (they may have natural resources that can be recovered) and also depending on the households and number of family members.
What is the price for this type of home?
The smallest model, Soleta One Plus, costs 39000 euro+VAT and the biggest one, Soleta Four Plus, costs 109000 euro+VAT.
The initial version of the model was Soleta Zero Energy One. Afterwards, this was improved by creating Soleta Plus. What determined you to make these changes?
As we mentioned, we received a consistent feedback from the public. Appreciations but also suggestions of improvement. Due to that, we analyzed and diversified the multiple features of the house: permanent living space, vacation house, offices, beauty centers. For these to be achievable, they needed more space, with optimal use and thus, to start with, we conceived a few models that satisfy the current needs identified on the market.
Considering the lack of foundation, aren’t there any restrictions on choosing the land for this project? Are there any special criteria that have to be taken in consideration before?
The foundation is not missing. There are two types of foundation that can be chosen: the classical one out of concrete cement and the one on wood pillars. For the one on wood pillars, the land on which you build the house should preferably be plain for a better stability. Expressions like “the house without walls” or “the house without foundation” are metaphorical interpretations of our solutions for this house. The wide glazed spaces that give transparency and the visual sensation that the interior space is embracing the natural exterior lead to this comparison. And the flotation impression is due to the wood pillars used to sustain the house that leave spaces in between. There are no restrictions regarding the land as long as there is an access to the land for the materials transportation because the house was conceived to adapt to any kind of climate or area (very cold or very warm).
There aren’t any special criteria to take into consideration when building a Soleta, there are the same steps as for a regular house.
Soleta in the future?
Before going further, we strongly wish to inform and educate the market in making a better choice for a house with a healthy lifestyle and that is responsible towards nature and our families. To transform the ecological house in a natural choice on the long term. In the future we hope to build as many houses here in Romania and abroad. We are proud to take worldwide a pure Romanian brand which offers a premium quality product that is competitive on a niche market.
The prototype mentioned before can be seen in Bucharest, on Alexandru Nasta Boulevard no.1, only after making an appointment. You can find more details about this, as well as other technical details and prices about each project, on the official website – www.soleta.ro. The following virtual projections aim to give you a hint about the current houses on the market and you will be able to see more images on the Soleta website, once the works on the new houses are over.