On Saturday, RhOME for denCity's year of hard work paid off when the team won the grand prize at Solar Decathlon Europe 2014! The design represents the upper level of a four-storey, urban regeneration complex proposed for Tor Fiscale in Rome, Italy. The 875 square foot building utilizes the traditional Italian design feature of the loggia to implement passive solar design principles and allow for a flexible floor plan that can grow and adapt according to the occupants' changing needs. It's chances for winning the competition got better on July 5 when it won first place in the Architecture Awards!
The RhOME for denCity team consists of professors and researchers from the Architecture, Business Studies and Engineering departments of the Università degli Studi Roma Tre, and a department of Politecnico di Milano. The compulsion behind their design were the target users currently neglected by the real estate market in Rome: singles, temporary workers, young couples, and older people who have been priced out of the market due to Italy‘s continuing economic woes. An increasingly transient population means a greater need for flexible housing designs to accommodate different types of occupants, as well as a flexibility should tenants achieve some measure of security and need their dwelling to adapt as their family grows.
One of the major climate issues in Rome is the summer heat. To offset this, the design incorporates a series of passive strategies making use of the loggia, an open, shaded gallery around the exterior of the building. This design feature, in combination with the flexible floor plan, provides cross ventilation benefits that naturally cool the house in summer. The structure is centered around an internal core, surrounded by the kitchen, the living room and the bedroom. The Versailles prototype opens up to the south-west and to the north-east, protected by loggias. The intention behind the particularly deep loggias is to allow future, needs-based transformations to the floor plan, such as switching between rooms and loggias. In addition to this “heavy” flexibility based on modifications to the external spaces, a light flexibility is built into the facade with the use of adjustable photovoltaic shading screens.
The full four-storey structure will make use of the thermal mass of its concrete base, with a central, structural core of latticed, reinforced concrete beams. This core will then support a lightweight, wood frame exterior, braced with steel St Andrew’s crosses. One of the foci for this year’s European Solar Decathlon was a move away from the previous reliance on photovoltaics to reduce the carbon footprint of the designs. Instead, designs are encouraged to make a more holistic contribution to low-energy city living through considerations of water usage, waste disposal, passive solar design, the mobility of occupants and urban connectivity. RhOME, “a home for Rome,” aims to present an affordable, sustainable, urban regeneration possibility that builds on its Italian heritage.
Photos by RhOME for denCity