Solar Decathlon 2011 – Thursday

Thursday in Washington D.C. for the Solar Decathlon 2011 turned out to be a beautiful day – cool breezes and warm sunshine. The engineering contest winners were announced today, and the line-up includes:

First Place: New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington

Second Place: Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology

Third Place: University of Tennessee

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (in no particular order) – Part 5:

Team Belgium – The concept behind Belgium’s design was exciting, as it was based on a do-it-yourself approach using available structural elements from local hardware stores. The building’s form was the most efficient in the competition (a square), and their goal was to keep the material choices simple and affordable. By utilizing industrial pallet racking system pieces, an inexperienced individual could construct this house on their own in a matter of days. The interior of the home consisted of coated plywood panels. Though simple and raw, there was a clear intent behind including such materials, and the finished product was well executed. Since the home was a two-level design, the general public was not allowed to venture into the lofted bedroom, bathroom, or study spaces. While I applaud the use of volume, it is a shame that visitors could not fully experience the design.

Solar Decathlon 2011 - Team Belgium: Ghent University

Solar Decathlon 2011 – Team Belgium: Ghent University

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Upon first glance, the Illinois design seems simple and unassuming. Upon closer inspection, however, the home establishes itself as a top contender in the competition. Envisioned as a more permanent response to disaster relief housing, the team’s design meets more than just the basic need for shelter. Coming in at just under 1,000 square feet, the Illinois design is very spacious and feels welcoming. Appropriately sized storage, options for two bedrooms and an open entertaining area mean that disaster victims will be able to settle in quickly and comfortably after being displaced from their homes. From the aesthetically pleasing monochromatic rain screen, to the affordable interior finishes, this design feels like home – exactly the type of familiarity disaster victims need when facing a crisis. More information from our interview with the team will be featured in an upcoming editorial.

Solar Decathlon 2011 - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Solar Decathlon 2011 – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Team Florida – Combining the resources and expertise of four Florida universities, team Florida delivers a coastal home that can be shipped on a single truck. A unique telescoping design allows program elements to slide out from the core to create variations in the massing. The interior is light, bright and very spacious, with fully glazed walls providing uninterrupted views to the exterior. The exterior is clad with aluminum siding overlaid with panels of wooden louvers that help block the sun and prevent harsh reflections from the metal. It was easy to picture this home as a vacation get-away with over the top parties. While I wish there had been more provision for sleeping arrangements (it was a one bedroom with additional loft bunk), the interior was definitely large enough to accommodate guests – as long as they were okay with a sleepover on the floor. I could see some minor tweaks making this house a great vacation home, or even a family residence with another dedicated bedroom. The possibilities are there with the re-configuring of the plumbing in relation to bedroom spaces. Had the team presented a multi-bedroom option, this entry would have been bumped from good to great.

Solar Decathlon 2011 - Team Florida

Solar Decathlon 2011 – Team Florida

I hope you’ve enjoyed the daily recaps from Solar Decathlon 2011. If you missed them, check them out in order: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Following the event, multiple editorials will be released with details from team interviews. Check back soon for more photo galleries, in depth reviews and more!



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