Your next house could snap together like a jigsaw puzzle without the need for any power tools. Clemson University students designed and built Indigo Pine, a Southern hospitality-inspired home that’s powered entirely by rooftop solar. Constructed from CNC-milled plywood, the innovative carbon-neutral house exists largely as a set of digital files to allow the average person to build their own house, with local materials, efficiently and affordably by hand.
Submitted as Clemson University’s first U.S. Solar Decathlon entry, Indigo Pine is a stand out contender for its novel construction method, called Sim[PLY], that greatly simplifies the building process. The Sim[PLY] structural system starts as a set of digital files that are sent to a local CNC machine which mills over 500 pieces of standardized-sheets of plywood into smaller interlocking pieces. The plywood components are individually numbered, flat-packed, and then shipped to the building site, where it can be assembled like a 3D puzzle. The units lock together to carry the weight load with a tab-and-slot connection, with no fasteners needed aside from some stainless steel bands for stability during the construction process and some screws in the floor joists.
The assembled result is a 970-square-foot three-bedroom home with one-and-a-half baths, a large common space, and a front porch. The Indigo Home sits atop a “concrete lung” foundation comprising concrete masonry units that allow airflow underneath to help regulate temperatures. The lightweight plywood frame has space for ample wall cavity insulation and is clad on the exterior with Zip System sheathing with an integrated moisture barrier and white reflective Aluminum Composite Material panels that boost thermal resistance. High-performance photovoltaic panels generate electricity for the house and an unique solar hot water system heats water directly with the solar energy.
“Indigo Pine has global application,” says the Clemson team. “Because the house exists largely as a set of digital files, the plans can be sent anywhere in the world, constructed using local materials, adapted to the site, and influenced by local culture.” Clemson University has built two houses: an Indigo Pine East in Clemson, where it serves as a research base, and an Indigo Pine West in Irvine, where it will compete in the Solar Decathlon.
Images via Indigo Pine, Mike Chino for Inhabitat