The lattice work on the outer shell is created from bamboo, a traditional Chinese material that is more sustainable than timber due to its rapid regrowth. By using mortise and tendon joints it adds to the structure’s strength while maintaining a pleasing appearance. The roof has added vegetation which aids in both insulating the house, cooling the solar panels, and it could double as a place to grow food.
The team intends to install 42 solar panels on the roof — two sets of 14 will be oriented in a set direction on different sides of the building, and the final set of 14 panels use a Tongji University-designed tracking system to follow the sun throughout the day in order to maximise solar exposure. The design also incorporates a rainwater harvesting system, allowing run-off to be filtered through a reed bed outside the house and collected in an underground water tank. Except drinking, this collected water could be used for any household use (showers / clothes and dish washing / watering the plants).
The design also employs LED lighting on the outer facade, which is elegantly lit up at night, as well as the porch area, which emits a welcoming blue glow from beneath the house. The structure features modern thermal insulation materials combined with scraps of old newspaper to maintain warmth in the winter. All windows are triple glazed to further minimize heat loss, thus reducing energy requirements. In the warmer weather, ventilation shafts in the walls, roof and underneath this structure allow air to flow throughout the inner building, creating a natural air-conditioning system for the living area with the hot air being pushed out through the roof.
As is becoming common practice for Solar Decathlon Europe entrants due to the constraints on construction time (a fortnight maximum), the team has embraced prefabrication methods, whereby much of the house is completed in a factory prior to arrival onsite, thus minimising time and effort in the final building process. The Chinese team are currently on site in Madrid, and construction is under way at the Villa Solar site. The doors will open to the public on September 14th.
via Muy Interesante