Solar Decathlon Europe: Techstyle Haus
Techstyle Haus was one of the innovative entries in the recently concluded Solar Decathlon Europe 2014. The small house was created by a team of students from the Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt. Wanting to try something different, the team decided to build a passive house using a textile roof.
The tent-like appearance might give the impression that the roof is thin and flimsy, but it actually consists of several layers including nearly 12 inches of mineral wool insulation. The outer covering is a Teflon-coated fiberglass membrane typically used for sports stadiums and designed to resist high winds.
The thick blanket of insulation along with triple-paned windows, air-tight construction, and design elements such as the generous overhang shading the south windows all work together to reduce the home’s heating and cooling requirements by 90 percent compared to typical construction, meeting the Passivhaus standard. Topping the roof are a high-efficiency photovoltaic system and solar water heater, which together collect more energy than the house uses.
The roof is stretched over five curved steel ribs that span the house without any intermediate supporting posts or walls. That left the 76.7 m2 (825 ft2) interior wide open, providing flexibility in how the space is used. The Techstyle Haus team opted for an open one-bedroom plus loft floor plan, concentrating the mechanical components into a technical core containing the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. The gently curved surfaces give the interior an attractive organic appearance.
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