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E-Cube, Ghent University, Solar Decathlon, solar home, prefab, passive house, 2011 solar decathlon

The goal of the Ghent University students was to create a comfortable, solar-powered house with a lot of space on a small budget. Simplicity is at the core of their design and the home is stripped of nonessential components and finishes, leaving its structure and façade exposed to the interior. The home is totally prefabricated into a kit of parts and geared towards those who have the inclination to build the home themselves, but don’t have the time to construct it from scratch.

The cubic, two story solar home features two bedrooms upstairs and a living, dining and kitchen downstairs. A standard pallet rack system is used to form the main structure using a bolt-less assembly process, which is then covered with a facade of fiber cement boards and window units that are all the same size. Inside, surfaces are left raw and unfinished to save on costs and a compact shape minimizes thermal energy loss through the building envelope while reducing necessary building materials. Electrical, plumbing and utilities are all neatly contained in the utility technical box from which the rest of the house can be easily hooked into.

A large solar system sits on the flat roof and the home is designed to Passiv Haus standards to reduce energy losses and energy use. Passive strategies and phase-change materials will maximize the use of direct solar gain. Assembly of the home is expected to take only a matter of days as opposed to more traditional home construction methods that would take weeks.