The solar house has been completely designed and built by students from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Brown University and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany, for the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe.The competition is taking place in Versailles, France until July 14, 2014.
The so-called Techstyle Haus has a number of features including 5kW of flexible solar panels that will provide energy to power the building. The monocrystalline PV cells are laminated to vinyl fabric and the curved nature of the entire arrangement enables for more solar energy to be captured compared to a flat system.
The unique fabric used for the solar house is a flexible fibreglass material called Sheerfill II Architectural Membrane with EverClean Photocatalytic Topcoat. The material has various applications, although it has been chiefly used for roofs of domed stadiums and airplane hangars. Techstyle Haus is the fabric’s first residential construction use.
Moreover, extremely efficient fire-resistant insulation materials such as mineral wood have been used beneath the textile skin. This have an additional function of damping the noise within the house.
The windows of the 90.82 m2 sustainable house are custom triple pane glazed with 95% krypton fillers, and an evacuated tube solar hot water system has been installed within the residential development.
Despite the enormous challenges faced by the team, the solar house has achieved the Passive House Standard, which means that the house will use 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a standard home.
"This project has been a great opportunity for us to reconsider how we think about energy efficiency and the play between function and form," said Helen Bergstrom, a chemical engineering student at Brown University and project engineer.
"It has been amazing to see how efficiency optimization can be used to create a structure that is seamless, elegant, and comfortable. If someone had told me two years ago that students could design and build a home out of fabric that produces over 50 percent more energy than it uses I would not have believed it. I think we have all surprised ourselves and our communities."
The team will de-construct the house after 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe and re-assemble it at Domaine de Boisbuchet, the site of annual art and design workshops, where will it be used for student housing.
Photo Source: Brown University