Have you ever wondered what an Ikea-style house might look like (and we're not talking about those houses completely furnished by the store)? For this year's Solar Decathlon which ended last week, Team Belgium came up with the answer: the E-Cube. This modular unit boasts a DIY mentality, wherein residents can completely assemble their own house from three crates and a simple manual within days.
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.
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.
Images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat