Foto: Vojta Herout, www.nafotime.cz
Retirement Home Domov Podhradí
At the beginning, there was a neglected meadow on the outskirts of Týnec nad Labem and a married couple with an unusual idea – to invest their resources and time into a complex of buildings for accommodating the elderly, which was to be built in a passive standard using natural and renewable materials.
An owner of a company specializing in the construction of wooden buildings and a nurse specializing in the care of the elderly began to transform twenty thousand square metres of land in a complex called Podhradí. Now there is an apartment building for community living for the elderly and a permaculture garden with an orchard of fruit trees. The construction of the other parts of the complex will be done in stages.
The Adaptation Journey
The positive impact
Originally a sparsely built-up area with minimal vegetation was exposed to heat, wind and torrential rain. Thanks to the planting of trees, the establishment of a garden, the use of a vegetation roof on a new building and the retention of water on the land, the climate will be significantly improved. An important requirement was the use of natural, renewable materials, water management, the use of renewable energy sources and the emphasis on the overall sustainability of the project.
How does it work?
In the future, Domov Podhradí will consist of an integrated complex of buildings, permaculture gardens and an orchard for a comfortable and dignified life with adequate care, but not only for the elderly. It is for people who are sick and the elderly who are the most vulnerable group at a time of extreme weather events caused by climate change. Therefore, the combination of green solutions ensuring the thermal comfort of the inhabitants should become the standard in the preparation of similar projects.
The construction of the first building is now completed - a single-storey apartment building with a green roof for people with reduced mobility and self-sufficiency issues, focusing mainly on the elderly. Of the 14 residential units, 9 are already occupied. In addition to their flats, clients also have shaded verandas, a large common meeting room and all the area around the building, where the owners have created a wildflower meadow, planted trees and established maintenance-free herb beds. They also mow the meadow in a mosaic pattern to preserve habitats for insects, which was something the clients needed to get used to.
The plan is to build a ground floor building with four more residential units, which would add to the accommodation capacity of the apartment building. In the lower part of the plot, other buildings are designed for clients requiring more comprehensive and permanent care. Last but not least, a two-storey apartment building is to be built to accommodate staff and family members of the clients.
The construction solution is based on the comprehensive DOMY ATREA system designed for energy-efficient buildings. Natural renewable and recycled materials are used to a large extent. Wood fibre is used for the walls and the cladding is made of larch. All this is complemented by a system of technical equipment that ensures comfortable and healthy living for clients and low operating costs for the operators.
The owners chose a ceiling heating system that uses warm water to heat the building. There are two storage tanks – a buffer tank for heating, which has a capacity of 400 litres, and a tank for hot water, which has a capacity of 750 litres, with a backup electric cartridge having an output of 2 kW - being used to store domestic hot water and heating water. Two air-to-water heat pumps serve as the main energy source. One is used for heating the water used for heating, the other for heating domestic hot water. The heat pumps operate in temperatures above approximately -15 degrees Celsius, they are replaced by an electric boiler in lower temperatures. The installation of a photovoltaic system on the roof of the building is also being prepared.
The apartments are ventilated by five heat recovering units with carbon dioxide sensors - if the air in the room is too stuffy, the ventilation units switch on automatically. At the same time ventilation through the windows is possible as well.
The roof of the building is covered with plants that help insulate the building, retain rainwater and support biodiversity, too. The green roofs cover an area of 980 square meters.
For the time being, the rainwater is left to seep into the land, but rainwater storage tanks are planned. However, the owners also have other plans to reduce the consumption of drinking water. To flush the toilets they plan to use a source of water on the adjacent plot of land, which they acquired only during the construction of the first building.
As part of the procedure to get the building permit, the investor was obliged to connect to the municipal sewer. The sewage water is therefore drained from the building into a waste sump, from which it is pumped into the municipal sewer. Sewerage piping is adapted in a way that it is possible to treat at least part of the wastewater in a root wastewater treatment plant, its construction is planned in the next stages of the project.
The site is located on the outskirts of Týnec nad Labem near the ruins of a Gothic fortress. It is directly connected to the area of the Elbe blind arm and the planned forest park. Originally, this was a sparsely built-up area with a minimum of quality vegetation and several old unused and dilapidated buildings of various character and complicated ownership.
Operation and maintenance
Due to the family nature of the project, the owners carry out routine maintenance and repairs themselves.
Why was the measure chosen?
The concept of the whole area gradually matured and was continuously modified. Initially, investors also considered building several family houses in combination with several separate buildings for the elderly. Gradually, the current solution solidified. It was influenced by the vision of the future operation of the area, current funding opportunities and the conditions of subsidy programmes.
Obstacles and challenges
The biggest challenge was to start the project. Managing the administration – construction, grant and social affairs – was also a challenge.
Operation and maintenance
The operation of the retirement home for the elderly is just at its beginning, it has been open since October 2020. Each resident brings their own story and comes with their joys and worries but together with the other inhabitants they create one unique community - a surrogate family.
After a very short period of use it was already obvious that the vegetation roof had a very positive effect. Rainwater runoff is significantly slower, which eliminates the risks associated with torrential rain. Part of the water still evaporates on the roof, which cools the building and the surrounding environment. This has had a very positive effect on thermal comfort, especially in summer.
How much did it cost?
Due to the specific nature of the project, where the investor is both the building contractor and the operator, the costs are difficult to quantify. The costs of the first stage implemented so far are around 17 to 18 million crowns.
The costs of the project were covered by the investor's own resources and by the subsidy programme Nová zelená úsporám.
The investor's aim was to implement the project as best as possible at the time of design and construction in terms of a technical, legislative and economical point of view.
The expected lifespan of the building is several decades.
Family and apartment houses Urban greenery Heating Green roof Biodiversity Heat waves and thermal island Lack of water and drought Energy savings