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World's tallest Passive House: high-rise Bolueta (Bilbao-Spain)

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The developers and architects of this project have set very high goals. With the Bolueta building, they wanted to set a new Passive House record and at the same time ensure the quality of the building through certification. Bolueta in the Spanish city of Bilbao is now the tallest Passive House building in the world. The recently issued certificate is proof of its highly energy efficient Passive House Standard construction.


The Bolueta high-rise building is identically named like the district of the city of Bilbao in northern Spain and is situated close to the busy railway station Bolueta. With a height of 88 metres and its conspicuous shiny black façade, the building contains a total of 32 storeys, 28 of which are above ground and thus visible. The surrounding buildings and countryside are reflected in the black, glossy surfaces, providing a lighter effect. The black colour symbolises the industrial past of the city, and it is a tribute to the two-and-a-half century’s old heavily coal-based industry, as explained by the Spanish architect Germán Velázquez.


The challenge was to keep within the budget and use traditional materials, the architect explained. The Basque Government and its public property development company Visesa are the owners of the Bolueta project which also includes the nine-storey adjacent building in addition to the high-rise. All 108 apartments of the high-rise have already been sold and residents are moving in now. The 63 apartments in the adjacent building will be rented as social housing. The cost for Bolueta, which includes 171 apartments in total, amounts to approximately 12.5 million euros.


Besides Bolueta in Spain, many large projects are currently being planned or are already under construction, particularly in the USA, Canada and China. With its height of 88 metres, Bolueta is currently the highest Passive House building in the world. It is two metres taller than the Passive House students' residence at Cornell Tech in Manhattan, New York which opened to residents in 2017.


To be mentioned, three other highly energy efficient high-rise-buildings: the Raiffeisen Tower in Vienna, the Passive House students' residence at Cornell Tech in New York, and the retrofitted tower block in Bugginger Strasse in Freiburg (Germany), the first high-rise building in the world achieving Passive House Standard.

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Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) 9 & DesignPH
PHPP 2007: Passive House Planning Package