MADRID Last week, in the middle of an empty field in Madrid slargest, though less-upkept, park Casa de Campo, teams ofuniversity students constructed a city. Nineteen teams from acrossEurope and Asia put the finishing touches on whatthey foresee as the architecture of tomorrow. Nineteenunique-looking, small homes popped up along the Villa Solar tocreate a temporary housing development a short walk from the RioManzanares. Some round, some square, some triangular, from halfwayaround the globe or an hour s journey. The only common traits thatpulled this hodge-podge housing together was theirrefreshingly-young architects and designers and the appearance ofshiny, glass solar panels, all focused on the Iberian sun.
Today SmartPlanet finishes its two-part series on this eccentric,sustainable village , populated by university students competing at the 2012 Solar Decathlon . Latticed Chinese luxury The first house of the future you come across when entering thevillage is not a three-bedroom split-level with aluminum siding anda two-car garage. It is a merged ode to Daoist thought and MichelFoucault s theories of autonomy in architecture, brought to you byChina s Tongji University students. The Para Eco-House is layered like Russian dolls, the outside,a latticework of bamboo and native planets, integrated with aself-irrigation system. It wraps around the smaller house box,which includes a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.
The innerly-nestedlayer is a smaller inner courtyard which is meant for privatefamily enjoyment. This bamboo encasing is a popular eco-friendly resource because itcan grow very fast, as well as, since it is naturallyhypo-allergenic, it doesn t need finishing or sealing withpotentially-toxic paints and varnishes. This house is alsoperfectly-located, as the students plan, over the next nine days,to take advantage of Casa de Campo, by collecting and filtering thefield s water and gray water and maybe even, unexpectedly,rainwater just as they would in their home country, to create anevaporating water cooling system. Sustainability has a superhero and a never-smelling bathroom Like the Italian team and their gecko mascot , reaching out to kids may be the trick to getting votes in thisearthy contest. Plus, 80 of the 1,000 potentially-earned points arescored on how well the team communicates the message and raisessocial awareness.
The team from Bordeaux University has taken thisploy even further by having Sumbiosi Boy give the tours. France sCaptain Planet takes you through this fully-adjustable house, withall the walls on wheels, allowing residents to decide just how muchpublic interaction or privacy they desire. The outside paneling ofthe house doubles both as support and storage space for eco-tasticitems like bicycles. By remote, the beds can go up or down andother furniture be hidden, as needed for extra space. The technology of the Sumbiosi house certainly stands out, as, eventhough there is no water in the toilet, it always keeps fresh in the bathroom, as installed in the ceiling is a wingedventilation system that creates depression, taking fresh air fornatural ventilation, says the superhero himself.
The house sroof has even more impressive tricks, as it features, by far, thesmallest solar cells in the competition. Silicium is the elementthat is often used to change the light rays into electricity, but, like all elements, there are limited amounts of it. The teamused tiny inch-squared versions of these cells, with magnifyingglasses above, leading to an unusual three-dimensional, triangularformation to the solar panels. One tiny cell gets the same poweras the big panels, Sumbiosi Boy says. This means that these tinypanels are able to produce 500 times the energy as normal cells.However, this is only achieved with direct light, which is why youcan spot a couple typical solar panels for those rainy days.
The Live-Outside House Twenty-four-year-old Atilla Erdos says that a big focus of BudapestUniversity s ODOO house was to make the most out of Hungary scold winters, as well as their month of sun in Spain. We had todesign our building for the Spain hot summer and the Hungarian coldwinters, as it will be trucked right back to their campus,post-competition. Claiming a healthier lifestyle, their house isdesigned to spend half of our time under the open sky. Theyhave taken the bulky mechanics of a solar house and stored them inthe summer wall that faces across a large patio to the windowedwall of the main house.
Besides equipping the inside home with theusual appliances, they have also built into that wall a summerkitchen and even sleeping area.The blob-shaped, blue and whitechairs you see actually are specially designed to open into bedsfor sleeping under the stars. The summer wall is covered on the outside with PV cells and, asErdos says, produces more energy in the winter with a coolingfactor in the summer. The solid sandwich structure alsofeatures a slightly-slanted roof with flatter, less-visible solarpanels, as well as panels on the facade. This is to produce anextra burst of heat, when the Hungarians have to stay inside forthe winter.
Your next home, available in sizes small, medium and large The team of Valencia s Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera wanted tomake a scalable model, literally. Their SML System focused ondeveloping a design that has prefabrication and industrializationas its main objectives. The pieces of the house can be easilyreplicated to create a generation of base objects or projects,forerunners of an industrial series. They even featured diagramsfor larger, multi-story homes and entire apartment complexes. If you can build it, there s an app for that, and this house is noexception.
From anywhere you are, you can change the lighting,temperature, pre-heat the oven or double-check that oven s off,and know immediately if anything in the complicated solartechnology is breaking. Now, it may encourage the increasingSpanish obesity problem, but it d be handy when Madrid sproverbial weather light-switch clicks from Summer to Winter. Also taking advantage of the seemingly-endless Spanish sun,they ve put not only 21 PV panels on the roof, but also on thefacades facing east and west. One of the obvious space gobblers of the contest is that thecontrol systems of a self-sustainable, solar-paneled house arehuge, while these houses are small. This is the only house that SPvisited that didn t take up precious floor-plan space with thecontrol room, instead placing it under the house.
Remember, beyond the research and message for the future of theworld, Solar Decathlon is a competition . There are 19 casas in total, so visit the website and vote for your favorite! Photos: Jennifer K. Riggins.
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