The 2011 Solar Decathlon is in full swing, with student teams from around the world battling it out at the National Mall in Washington D.C for the grand prize title of best solar home. This year's 19 solar-powered entries run the gamut from modern and quirky to suburban and traditional, but all boast brilliant and innovative energy saving twists. Appalachian State has certainly created a standout structure with a user-specific approach to their Solar Homestead design. Their Solar Homestead has been built for the new homesteader of Asheville, North Carolina, an emerging group that values independence, the land, and the environment. Unlike some of the one-unit cubes in the running, this house boasts a mobile footprint and has been engineered as a series of outbuilding modules (OMs) inspired by the traditional mountain lifestyle, which places independence and adaptability at its heart.
A limited budget has made adaptability a top theme this year and The Solar Homestead exemplifies this facet of sustainable design better than most. A half-bath, outdoor shower and outdoor kitchen can be flexibly transitioned into an office, guest bedroom or independent cabin space. Nearly 900 square feet of flexible space is arranged around the great porch, allowing for plenty of natural light to permeate the spaces, in turn minimizing electricity needs. Forty-two photovoltaic panels terrace the roof and power the home.
Bringing this net-zero building to the world stage was the result of large scale collaboration between Appalachian State’s student and faculty community. The results speak to the idea that energy independent living can be stylish and comfortable.
Textured materials add interest and evoke a natural harmony with the surroundings, negative spaces in furniture allows a flow of air and the elements, and a great porch connects the mobile buildings while standing exposed the wide open landscape.
Outside of functional design, the Appalachians proved their worth as entertainers by tying with New Zealand, Canada and Maryland for first place in the home entertainment contest. A gourmet autumn-inspired menu of squash soup, mac + cheese muffinettes, stuffed mushrooms, Carolina dry rub pork chops and apple blueberry bars may have played a part in the neighbors’ positive reception of this mountain dwelling.
The Solar Homestead may not rank as comfortable as Ohio State’s glass-sided enCORE (currently in 2nd overall), but we still think it’s pretty special. And, the competition isn’t over yet! The grand prize winner will be announced tomorrow!
Photos © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat