Solar Decathlon 2014: Techstyle Haus

Project Director: Jonathan Knowles

Techstyle Haus was conceived, designed, and built by an international team of students from three universities, two in the United States and one in Germany. These students combined forces in order to compete in the Solar Decathlon Versailles 2014—a leading forum to foster new sustainable design strategies. During the two-week exhibition, Techstyle Haus was visited by 80,000 people and seen by many more through publications such as the New York Times, Huffington Post, and Le Monde.

The students proposed a broad strategy more than a single house; a way of designing and building based on highly engineered components and efficient construction. Our innovative building system has the potential to be implemented in various applications, including single and multifamily housing, live/work, mixed-use, utilitarian buildings, and market sheds. Techstyle Haus is an energy-efficient and solar-powered approach to building—shaped, patterned and layered with high-performance textiles.

Why textiles? Advances in material science have made textiles and membranes an advantageous alternative to traditional masonry and wood construction and at a lower cost and easier assembly. The use of textiles allows us to build sleek, flexible forms, engineered to meet the stringent passive house energy standard. An optimally contoured solar array generates electricity while solar thermal tubes provide hot water, resulting in a net-zero, energy-independent prototype that consumes 90% less heating and cooling energy than an average American home.

After the competition, the student team installed the house at the Domaine de Boisbuchet, an academy in France for interdisciplinary art and design workshops. There, the house was adopted as housing for visiting artists, designers, and students from around the world. Visitors will carry the lessons of Techstyle Haus with them when they leave, extending Techstyle Haus’s research far beyond its physical location. Eventually, a series of houses, deploying the fundamental innovations of Techstyle Haus, will be built on the campus to expand its year-round capacity.

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Prototype

Competition

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