What happens when you blend Appalachian architecture with Italian influences? The result may look something like STILE, an energy-efficient, all-weather home topped by a Roman-inspired arch. The solar-powered prefab home is built from recycled shipping containers and is equipped with a home automation system to help residents reduce their carbon footprint.
West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata partnered to designed and build STILE—Sustainable Technologies Integrated in a Learning Experience—for this year’s entry to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The house combines Appalachian and Roman design elements into an unusual volume that boasts a rigid rectangular frame and a curved arch. The rectangular prefab frame, which houses the living quarters, is made from deconstructed steel shipping containers located on jacks, while the arch supports a solar array and provides shade for the outdoor patio.
The affordable and environmentally friendly STILE home comprises a single master bedroom, a bathroom, mechanical room, and a large south-facing open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining room that takes up half the building footprint and opens out to the outer deck through sliding glass doors.
The home’s low energy footprint is achieved with the solar chimney that uses changes in air temperature and density to passively cool the house; careful window placement that takes advantage of passive solar; the PV array of 36 285-watt panels that power all of STILE’s electricity needs; and LED lighting. A fully integrated automation and monitoring system shows residents real-time energy use information and teaches them how to improve their energy savings over time.
Images by Mike Chino for Inhabitat