Sustainable by design 2050

An initiative of the UIA

Velux model home 2020





Gregor Pils & Andreas Claus Schnetzer
Western Europe - Italy - venice
Climate Zone
Design status
Date of completion
Mixed use
Footprint (m²)
Gross Volume (GV) (m³)
Heating Energy (kWh/m²a)
Cooling / Heating-System

Due to the insulation between the pallets, which are supported by a ventilation appliance (a heater in winter and an air conditioning in summer), you need very little energy (no more than 10 kWh/m² per year for heating).

Use of renewable ressources - low tech
natural cross ventilation, evapoartive cooling
Use of renewable ressources - high tech
heating pump
Renewable, recycled, recyclable and innovative materials

Pallets are available worldwide and used in different ways (e.g. for transport with railway cars, ship containers and trucks). At the end of their life cycle pallets are usually burnt. Thus it is of global concern to find a follow-up use for them. A follow-up use could be to create a house with a simple structure, a so-called pallet house.

Key Sustainability aspects
solar building integration, accessability for disabled, renewable building materials, recycling and reuse, ecological building materials, innovative bulding materials, integrated planning process, low cost design, use of innovative design tools, zero energy design
Sustainability rated
Passive House
Social and ethical responsibility

At the end of 2009, 43.3million people worldwide were forcibly displaced due to conflicts and persecution. This includes 15.2 million refugees and 27.1 million Internal Displaced Persons (IDP-Statistic of UNHCR). Due to the

increasing world population, the number of people living in slums is rising as well. Nowadays about 1 billion people worldwide live in slums and the figure is still growing up to 2 billion by 2030 (Statistic of UN-HABITAT).

Ressource efficiency and environmental impact

Pallets are a standardized means of transport which are available worldwide. At the end of their life cycle pallets are usually burnt. A follow-up use for them could be to create a pallethouse. Due to the use of recycled pallets and local insulation materials like cellulose, straw or sand, the need for other materials is reduced to a minimum. Today pallets are very popular for transport only, but in the future pallets could additionally become a popular construction element for poor and for rich!

Economic lifecycle perfomance

Germany for instance is producing about 80million pallets per year. At the end of their life cycle pallets are usually burnt. So it is a global concern to find a follow up use for them. Pallets as construction material are basic for poor and rich, and allow flexible construction and use according to local conditions and needs (low cost for slums, temporary living for refugees, low energy houses). The pallethouse offers help for self-help, involving all social classes into its lifecycle (suppliers’ workshop, construction and final use).

Contextual performance and impact

The pallethouse should create space for different people & situations, a system which should work as high standard building in industrial countries and also as low tech building in developing countries.

The cubic pallethouse for industrial countries is an example for a high tech building in passivehouse standard can be done with low tech materials. Using recycled materials instead of new materials will save a lot of resources and emissions.

Pallethouses can be also built up as “do it yourself" houses in developing countries. The first building is already built in South Africa.