For the 2011 Solar Decathlon, the team of students from Florida International University created a house that responds to its inhabitants and its surrounding environment. Called the perFORM[D]ance House, the structure is networked to respond to external conditions in real time; opening, closing and adjusting to the needs of the hot and humid climate of Florida. The modern single story home recently competed with 18 other eco-friendly prefabs in the biennial design-build competition on the National Mall. Perched on a wooden platform deck, The perFORM[D]ance House is topped with grid of solar arrays arranged in scales on its flat roof and surrounded by planters with flowers and greenery.
The moving perFORM[D]ance House has a futuristic design, inspired by Paul Rudolph’s Cocoon House. Floor to ceiling windows line the perimeter of the home, which bring natural lighting into every room. To protect inhabitants from the blazing Florida heat, a retractable glazing system was put in place. White louvers encase the glass, raising or lowering automatically depending on the outside temperature or time of day. They also give privacy to the interior, as well as protect the residents from harsh hurricane winds and other weather elements. The team scored perfectly in the Energy Balance category, proving that the home’s responsive design works well.
Outside, the wooden deck is lushly planted with flower beds, herbs, vegetables and fruit. A bio-filtration pond adds serenity, and casts a cool breeze. The large deck area can be used for entertaining, cooking, and leisure. The roof extends over the deck, with an adjustable canopy to provide shade and protection from rain. Inside, the space is airy and comfortable, with flexible living areas. The bedroom features a Murphy bed, which can be folded away to create a workspace.
The photovoltaic lined roof and generates enough power to run all electricity, including the home’s ductless heating and cooling. Solar thermal tubes help keep temperatures under control. All systems are contained in a central mechanical core, which eliminates the need for extensive wiring and plumbing. Residents can monitor their energy use with the monitoring station. Now that the Solar Decathlon is over, the perFORM[D]ance House is back at the Florida International University, where it is the visitor pavilion on campus.