Test family moves into the LichtAktiv Haus

The two-year test phase will be monitored by specialists and will provide new insights into how we should build and live in our homes in the future.

Until just a few weeks ago, the VELUX LichtAktiv Haus was open to the public for events and visits. But now it is time to move into the second phase of the experiment in the search for the building and living standards of the future. Christian Oldendorf (39) and his wife Irina (37) are moving into the LichtAktiv Haus in Hamburg's Wilhelmsburg with their sons Lasse (8) and Finn (5). The German contribution to the pan-European VELUX experiment Model Home 2020, under the aegis of the Hamburg International Building Exhibition (IBA), demonstrates how innovative living can be achieved today in an existing building by making use of large quantities of natural light. Following a multi-stage application procedure, the family, from Hamburg Ottensen, were chosen from many candidates and are now all set to move in. For the next two years, they will put the modern, light-filled, zero-energy converted settler's house to the test.

"This test phase is central to the project. We want to subject our vision of lots of daylight, fresh air and open views to a practical test – and who better to judge the house's merits than a family who can really put the home of the future through its paces?" said Dr Sebastian Dresse, CEO of VELUX Deutschland GmbH at the official handing over of the keys. He also presented the family with the traditional German house-warming gift of bread and salt.

Uli Hellweg, CEO of the Hamburg International Building Exhibition (IBA) welcomed the test family to their new home and presented the official IBA trophy plate for the LichtAktiv Haus. "The VELUX LichtAktiv Haus meets its energy requirements in full using renewable sources and is carbon neutral when inhabited," explained Hellweg. "That means that this semi-detached house, which has been modernised in a truly innovative way, makes a major contribution to the Wilhelmsburg climate action concept as a project of the IBA Hamburg International Building Exhibition."

In the next two years, TU Braunschweig will work with HafenCity University Hamburg to provide continuous monitoring and documentation of the house's energy consumption and indoor temperature. The well-being and living experience of the family themselves will be recorded and evaluated. To this end, TU Darmstadt and Humboldt University Berlin will conduct regular evaluations and organise group interviews with the Oldendorfs. The findings of these measures will be compared with the quantitative measurements taken by TU Braunschweig. Furthermore, the test family will document their experiences and provide the academic institutions involved with regular reports about their life in the LichtAktiv Haus. "The two-year test phase is going to completely change our lives," said Irina Oldendorf. "We're leaving our small, gloomy home behind us and heading for adventure in the zero-energy house.'' Christian Oldendorf added, "The LichtAktiv Haus grabbed our attention from the start – especially the light rooms flooded with daylight and the juxtaposition of the traditional and the contemporary. We were hooked from the word go. It's really impressive to see what you can do with a house from the 1950s and we're all really looking forward to trying out the living standards of the future."

The findings gained through the LichtAktiv Haus experiment should provide an insight into how an environmentally-friendly housing solution should be designed to offer its inhabitants a healthy indoor climate and superior living conditions, whilst simultaneously minimising their carbon footprint. The LichtAktiv Haus is therefore very relevant in practical terms, as it fulfils the requirements of a building of the future, and it is a perfect example of how, in real life, superior living conditions can be combined with energy self-sufficiency.

Photo caption
The Oldendorfs and their new home - Christian (39), Irina (36), Lasse (8) and Finn (5) have just moved into the VELUX LichtAktiv Haus where they will put the home of the future through its paces over the next two years.Photo: VELUX A7S

About the LichtAktiv Haus
The LichtAktiv Haus is Germany's contribution to the pan-European VELUX Model Home 2020 project. As part of the experiment, daylight experts will carry out research into the way we will build and live in our homes in the future. The modernisation of a 1950s semi-detached house in the Wilhelmsburg district of Hamburg will illustrate the innovative combination of high standards of liveability and optimum energy efficiency. The goal is to create a carbon-neutral home that offers its occupants a healthy indoor climate with lots of natural light and fresh air. The LichtAktiv Haus is a project of the IBA Hamburg international building exhibition and part of the Renewable Wilhelmsburg climate action concept.

The house was developed by:
Design planning: TU Darmstadt F Gee, Prof. Manfred Hegger; Design: Katharina Fey (TU Darmstadt); Architects: Ostermann Architekten; Energy concept: HL Technik, Prof. Klaus Daniels; Lighting design: Prof. Peter Andres PLDA; Structural: TSB-Ingenieure, Prof. Karsten Tichelmann; VKR Group partners: Sonnenkraft, Velfac, WindowMaster;Cooperation partners: Eternit, Gira, Grohe, Keramag, Knauf, Knauf Insulation, Metten, Nolte Küchen, Somfy.

Read more about LichtAktiv Haus at:

About Model Home 2020
Model Home 2020 is an experiment launched by the VELUX Group as part of our strategy to take an active part in developing sustainable buildings for the future. It is our vision of how future buildings can be both climate-neutral and comfortable and attractive places to live in through daylight and fresh air. The project is in full accordance with the next generation of design principles frequently referred to as 'active house' ( The objective is to achieve a balance between energy efficiency and optimal indoor climate with a building that dynamically adjusts to its surroundings and yet is climate-neutral.

Model Home 2020 comprises six demonstration projects. The two experiments in Denmark were built in a partnership between the VELUX Group and VELFAC. Each of the Model Home projects was implemented in close cooperation with local and regional partners, suppliers, architects, engineers and researchers.

In the VELUX Group, we believe that one experiment is better than a thousand expert views. Each building must reflect and respond to the different climatic, cultural and architectural conditions of the countries in which they are built. The houses will be open to the public for 6-12 months after completion and then sold. Each house will be monitored during occupancy to learn how the experiments turn out in real-life conditions. The houses in Denmark – Home for Life in Aarhus and Green Lighthouse in Copenhagen – have been in use for two years, those in Germany and Austria opened in 2010 and those in UK and France opened in 2011. The Newsmarket