#BraveNewBreak - Erik Vidje

#BraveNewBreak: “Building a sustainable dream house”

It is summer and holiday time in the northern hemisphere - excursions, trips and own projects will fill the days. In our series of "BraveNewBreak stories, our colleagues at ÅF Pöyry share their summer plans and tips on how to make summer more sustainable.

Erik Vidje, urban planner

The circular thinking is always in mind, and every detail and material have to be reusable in one way or another.

It starts with a dream. Erik Vidje and his wife wanted to build their own sustainable house. From the first sketch they have always had circularity in mind – every detail and material have to be reusable. For a long time, they’ve been wanting to grow their own food and be as close to nature as possible. And they have come long way.

“We started reading about how to build a house and went to some courses in alternative methods to build a house. After that, we started sketching an overall concept and discussed this with architects and designers. The house, garage and woodshed are planned with our ambitions and how with want to live our lives in mind,” Erik says.

The ambition has always been to build as much as possible by themselves, from sketches of the design, to the last wallpaper being put on the wall.

“We have worked in GIS with maps and drawn in Sketchup. For what we cannot do ourselves, such as detailed planning, for example, we have taken the help of architects, designers and specialists. We have also been helped by a carpenter to build the body and the roof of the house,” says Erik.

Today, five years later, the project is underway. Both Erik and his wife are on leave in June, July and August to get as far as possible in the process. The circular thinking is always in mind, and every detail and material have to be reusable in one way or another.

“In the beginning of summer, we want to finish the straw bailing of the outer walls. When that is done, the house is finally completely enclosed. After that, much of the summer’s work will go to clay outer walls on the inside and outside so that we get a finished climate shell. It’s clay, clay and clay, but it’s fun too,” says Erik.

When the clay is in place, it’s time for the technical details to be installed, such as solar panels and solar collectors which will provide electricity and heat in the house.

“We have, among other things, put in a recirculation of hot water in the shower. In that way, only five liters of water per shower are needed. And no, it doesn’t mean that we will need to shower in dirty water, it is filtered before it goes out through the nozzle again,” says Erik.

Both Erik and his wife have a strong environmental interest and believe that the only thing that leads to changes in how we all live and use the planet’s resources is through good local examples.

“We work a lot alongside the Swedish architect Anders Nyquist’s thesis ‘it is only when new ideas are realized that something happens. Only when people can see, touch, smell and feel they understand’. The project will be very unique in its kind even though we are not in any way reinventing the wheel. We have put a lot of energy into finding the most environmentally friendly and healthy building solutions that suit us and the environment in which we are building the house in,” says Erik. 

How would Erik encourage people to start living more circular?

“You don’t have to buy new things. You can get everything you need by borrowing from you neighbors or friends, or buying it on the second hand market.”