You’ve probably noticed that nearly every roof in New York City is flat, but do you know why? The roofs were designed this way to allow for additional floors to be added as the city expanded, and New Yorkers have taken advantage of the flat space in an endless amount of ways. We recently exposed some of NYC’s hidden rooftop homes, and students from the City College in NYC have taken a page from the same book with their design for this Solar Roof Pod. The structure, which they entered in this year’s U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, turns underutilized roof tops into prime real estate for the self-sufficient solar home.
The Solar Decathlon in itself is a really cool competition that challenges 20 college teams to design and build cost-effective solar-powered homes that also happen to be easy on the eyes. The Solar Roof Pod, designed by Team New York, will be a 746 square-foot penthouse that makes the most out of its superb proximity to the sun while also taking advantage of wind and water resources.
The RoofPod fits nicely with NYC’s PlaNYC 2030 project, which emphasizes the transformation of roof tops into surfaces that work to make the city a greener place. With its direct access to sun, wind, and stormwater, the pod has the potential to be self-sufficient and very cost-efficient by making the most of the natural resources that usually prove to be an annoyance for roof tops. The sun and wind will provide the necessary energy to keep the house running while stormwater is captured via the rooftop garden and recycled for personal use within the home.
The team incorporated an interdisciplinary mash-up of architecture, engineering and art in the design of the module, which can be customized to fit the various needs of New Yorkers. A series of steel beams evenly distribute the structure’s weight, allowing it to be mounted onto existing roofs with minimal alterations. The system is even strong enough to support the planter bins that create the rooftop garden and stormwater retention system.
The structure is also designed to be “aware” of its surroundings — the team states that the pod is a smart house rather than a passive house because of its unique and innovative active system that regulates and controls lighting, HVAC, water systems and appliances. The interior also emphasizes renewable resources through the efficient use of bamboo and poplar — fast growing plants whose darker tones are a nice complement to the light tones used on the floors and ceilings.
What’s really great about the Roof Pod is the fact that it does not sacrifice beautiful design aesthetics in its quest for sustainability – instead the team has incorporated nature’s natural beauty into every aspect of the design.
A prototype of the Solar Roof Pod will be open to the public during the Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C. from September 23-October 2.
Images © Solar Roof Pod