Solar Decathlon 2013: Borealis, a small house for shared living
Team Alberta Solar Decathlon took a unique approach to the Solar Decathlon 2013 competition. Their entry, called Borealis, is designed to be shared by unrelated housemates. The small house features two separate bedroom and living room suites with a shared kitchen, dining room and bathroom in between. Sliding doors allow the two living rooms to be opened to the common space or closed off for privacy as needed. Each of the suites also has its own outside entrance and private deck. The home has a total of 915 ft2 (85.0 m2) of floor space.
Team Alberta Solar Decathlon designed Borealis for resource industry workers in remote communities, many of whom are single or commute from their home communities on a rotating schedule. However there are obviously many other situations where two people might want to share a small house for financial, social or familial reasons.
With the boom and bust nature of resource industries, housing in remote resource towns is often in short supply or of poor quality and uninspired design. Borealis offers a much more pleasant and sustainable home away from home. Its modular design allows it to be transported to where it is needed and installed quickly, solving the problem of bringing experienced construction workers to remote areas.
The shared center module contains all the mechanical equipment and plumbing, simplifying on-site assembly. Each suite has direct access to the bathroom, so the occupants don’t have to go through the common social space to reach it. Having two entrances to the bathroom would have been an on-going nuisance in the past, but that problem could probably now be solved with electronic door locks. Like Start.Home, Borealis has a wall of plants in the bathroom to help clean the air and provide the occupants with a touch of greenery over long winters. Solar tubes in the ceiling supply the plants with sunlight.
The detailed construction plans for Borealis have been put in the public domain, meaning they can be downloaded for free from the Solar Decathlon website.
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