The E+ Green Home, a concept house located an hour outside Seoul, not only points the way to a greener South Korea, it may well be the most sustainable house in the country.

All photos: Sergio Pirrone

Visit Seoul, South Korea, and you’ll be stunned by the average apartment building — tens of stories high, and numbering in what must be the hundreds, these landscape-defining structures look less like the housing stock of a high-tech megacity than massive concrete milk cartons.

Riding a wave of dissatisfaction with high-rise dwelling, growing numbers of South Koreans are looking for a different, more sustainable way to live. And a new housing prototype in Kyeong-Gi — the E+ Green Home — showcases the sustainable building prowess of the firm Kolon Engineering and Construction and also the design acumen of Seoul’s Unsangdong Architects Cooperation.

Erected on the site of Kolon’s headquarters, the show home is one of what the firm hopes will be many they’ll build across South Korea. With a tripartite approach to energy efficiency, the E+ Home is at once a laboratory and a showcase for the 95 green technologies used, many developed by Kolon. By saving (the house uses 27% of the average Korean home), generating (it produces 38% of what’s used by the average Korean home), and recycling energy, the E+ Home even meets German Passive House standards.

A tool for marketing and education, the E+ Home is that rare spec house that actually functions as a working residence: Curious house-hunters can actually book a night or two in the place to get a feel for what serious green living feels like.

This story originally appeared under the title E+ for Effort at Dwell, whom Matador is proud to have as a content syndication partner.



Though they may look like architecture school run amok, the steep pitches and cants of the roof have everything to do with the home’s ecological agenda. By creating a series of green roofs, maximizing daylighting and water catchment, and optimizing the positions of light tubes and building-integrated photovoltaic panels, the roof is a canny mix of passive solar design and state-of-the-art technology.


Smart gallery

This second-floor gallery displays the green materials and technologies Unsangdong and Kolon built into the house. The two firms teamed up on the furniture design as well.


Just venting

Though a tight thermal envelope is critical to the E+ Home’s sustainability, Kolon’s heat recovery ventilation and air filtration systems (above the desk) help ease the load.


Windows update

By angling the second-story window away from the hall, Unsangdong created an expansive space without adding to the house’s footprint. A building-integrated photovoltaic window by Kolon does double duty, bringing both light and energy into the house.


Tube station

Never enthralled with high-tech for its own sake, the architects make use of age-old passive cooling techniques like the stone “cool tube” that runs through the kitchen and second floor.


Serenity now

Designed to suit all the needs of a Korean family of four, the interior takes what Unsangdong calls “emotional design” as seriously as energy efficiency. This tranquil ground-floor bedroom and bath were created with the help of Japanese interior designer Kondo Noriko.


Green machines

The E+ Home uses 95 different green technologies. Here’s our guide.


Big man on campus

Built on Kolon Engineering and Construction's grounds, the E+ Home is the neighborhood's green building star. From this angle you can see the permeable pavers and sustainable landscaping, like water catchment pools and living walls, that make this place a paragon of green housing.


Underneath it all

By capturing and storing storm water and heat underground, the house saves even more energy.