Amanda Coen

Team Belgium's E-Cube 2011 Solar Decathlon House is a DIY Modular Kit-Home

by , 10/04/11

Solar Decathlon; green design; energy efficient; green building; recycled materials; eco design; self sufficient; self sustaining; renewable energy; Team Belgium; E-Cube; sustainable design

Through their various decisions, the 40-member team from Ghent University constantly stressed affordability and efficiency. The house begins with a starter unit that, and according to the buyer’s time and budget, can gradually be expanded upon with enhancements to the Photovoltaic system and extensions to the living spaces. This allows dwellers to adapt to life’s changing conditions while also personalizing it along the way. The design was one of the more affordable projects on display with the cost estimated to be around $300,000.

Immediate costs were not the only considerations factored into the design. The E-Cube followed the Passive House Standard. The structure’s 18cm thick, polyurethane walls create an envelope allowing the house to be heated without a conventional heating system, saving resources in the long run.

Solar Decathlon; green design; energy efficient; green building; recycled materials; eco design; self sufficient; self sustaining; renewable energy; Team Belgium; E-Cube; sustainable design

While much of the furniture in the kitchen and upstairs section of the house was purchased from Ikea, the Belgian members also managed to mix in custom made pieces. Drawing on the talent of fellow students, the team integrated a number of resourcefully styled items. One of the most intriguing products were a pair of chairs made from old road signs that together form part of the word ‘Amsterdam.’ Several pieces of furniture were made from recycled pallet wood, including the television stand located in the living room.

The set up of each house varies greatly, but the E-Cube is the only unit in this year’s competition that has two stories. Its grated floors upstairs allow the two levels to function almost as one and create a feeling of more space than a traditional, solid ceiling would. While not for all tastes, its highly industrial feel reflects its pre-engineered, factory-built, easy-assemblage characteristics. Even the manual handed out by the team to visitors was much more brief than those distributed by competitors. It concluded with witty directions on how to fold it into an inflatable cube without any special tools or building-skills necessary.

+ US Department of Energy 2011 Solar Decathlon

+ Team Belgium

+ Inhabitat’s Coverage of the 2011 Solar Decathlon

Images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat

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3 Comments

  1. frado October 13, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Nice idea. Great concept. Thumbs up that it meets passiv haus standards.

    I feel I need to comment to my fellow Flemings that at $300k DIY this fairly small kit home isn’t affordable. It lacks fit & finish. I would not want to live in an exposed warehouse shelving structure staring at unfinished plywood cladding? With mesh flooring above the kitchen, no storage, pallet furniture, no covered parking, inefficiently flat mounted solar hot water and photovoltaics on the roof, …

    I love the idea and I understand it is a proof of concept, extremely energy efficient and maybe cutting edge in some way; but it would be a very hard sell in the marketplace.

  2. Marko October 2, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Perhaps there it’s a typo, but you have affordable and $300.000 in the same sentence!?

  3. property in jaipur October 1, 2011 at 3:15 am

    i like this image ….

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