Solar Decathlon; green design; energy efficient; green building; recycled materials; eco design; self sufficient; self sustaining; renewable energy; Tidewater Virginia; eco building

The furniture in the Unit 6 Unplugged house reflects the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, which originated in England in the late 19th century and was spread worldwide by architects and designers like William Morris and Frank Lloyd Wright. Several pieces in the house were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a well-known architect and designer from that period. These pieces are on temporary loan from a faculty member for the duration of the competition.

The home’s sloped roof and deep porch draw upon Southern porch culture, offering a place to hang out on hot days. The porch can even be enjoyed during colder weather, as it can be easily converted into an enclosed space thanks to a Henselstone window and door system. The hurricane-rated windows are another important design feature, given the weather patterns of the area. They boast a thermal resistance value (R-value) of 7 on the north, west and east sides and 5.5 on the south side of the house.

Solar Decathlon; green design; energy efficient; green building; recycled materials; eco design; self sufficient; self sustaining; renewable energy; Tidewater Virginia; eco building

A unique feature inside the house is a moveable wall that serves as both a bookcase and a secret door to the bedroom located off the living room. When not open, the bedroom remains completely concealed. This feature also helps with temperature control by creating more localized environments which can be efficiently heated or cooled when in use.

While the house’s interior space is more broken up than other entries, the tall, sloped ceilings, big windows and combination of natural woods and light-colored walls give it an open, airy feel. The layout was designed for a family living in multifamily housing in a historic neighborhood setting, and it serves this purpose quite well. It effectively offers a divide between social and private life while incorporating a circular flow that encourages dwellers to move through and use all the rooms.

+ Department of Energy 2011 Solar Decathlon
+ Tidewater Virginia

Images by Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat