Solar Decathlon Europe: Ekihouse

photo by Jesús Martín Ruiz | UPV/EHU eki project

photo by Jesús Martín Ruiz | UPV/EHU eki project

Continuing our coverage of Solar Decathlon Europe 2012, today we take a look at Ekihouse (“sun house”), a small prefabricated house in two modules. Ekihouse is the result of a collaboration between two Basque schools, Universidad del País Vasco and Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea. It has a simple floor plan with the kitchen and utilities at one end, the bathroom at the other, and an open loft-like living space in the middle. The living area is enclosed by triple-paned sliding patio doors on the two remaining sides.

photo by Jesús Martín Ruiz | UPV/EHU eki project

photo by Jesús Martín Ruiz | UPV/EHU eki project

The most physically distinctive feature of Ekihouse is the sliding panels used for shade and privacy. The steel panels look solid from a distance but actually have thousands of tiny holes depicting a forest scene. On bright days the perforated panels filter the incoming light. Turn the lights on at night and the house is transformed, taking on a distinctive glowing appearance. The team envisions that the pattern of perforations would be customized by the home-buyers. The panels certainly look good but as they are mounted on the outside, they might not be convenient to adjust. It’s not clear whether or not there is some kind of motorized system for positioning them.

photo by Jesús Martín Ruiz | UPV/EHU eki project

photo by Jesús Martín Ruiz | UPV/EHU eki project

The living area is one big open space that can be configured as needed. The furnishing likewise were chosen to maximize flexibility. Storage units on castors and lightweight seating can be easily rearranged or pushed to the side, and the wall bed folds out of the way during the day. It’s a form of living that will appeal to some but not others.

On the technical front, ekihouse is ready for off-grid use with a rainwater catchment system, a system to collect and filter grey water for reuse, and of course the requisite solar panels mounted on the roof.

Would you prefer a house like this designed for flexible reconfiguration or one with more well-defined fixed functions? Comments are open!

Photographs courtesy of the UPV/EHU eki project and Solar Decathlon Europe.

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