Students from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri designed this beautiful solar-powered home completely out of prefabricated concrete. Built to showcase the viability of building with concrete, the spectacular design includes a series of gutters on the exterior that serve as a large-scale hydroponic growing system that can produce food all year round.
According to the team, the design of the Crete House is meant to be a reminder that concrete continues to be a viable and sustainable building material that makes for a beautiful alternative to wood constructions. Thanks an ultra-strong envelope comprised of four inches of standard concrete, five inches of insulation, and one inch of Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), the home is incredibly resilient against fire, moisture, mold, insects, seismic activity, and extreme weather.
The design focuses on providing the ultimate in self-sufficiency – including energy generation, water reuse, and food production. Solar panels provide sufficient energy to the home, and a water-to-water heat pump provides hot water for domestic use as well as water for the home’s radiant heating and cooling system installed in the floor and ceiling.
The precast insulated concrete panels of the home are factory-manufactured, but assembled on-site, reducing travel time and energy. In addition to the home’s structure, the concrete panels were used to create a series of large L-shaped gutters that extend out and away from the house. The shape of the gutters was strategic in creating an innovative system of water collection that directs to vegetated channels built into the vertical gutters that extend out into horizontal planters on the ground level. This all-in-one hydroponic system, complete with drip emitters, integrates a home garden system into the design, allowing occupants to grow their own food all year round.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat