Following years of research and development, an accidental fire and rebuild, and around a month spent in the Dubai desert, Virginia Tech students have triumphed to win the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East with the FutureHaus. The prefabricated modular home runs from solar power and was assembled in less than two days.
The 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East is an offshoot of the main competition in the US and was launched in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates' Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. It tasks students with building prototype solar-powered houses, with points awarded for efficiency, design and other criteria. Owing to the conditions in that part of the world, they must also adapt to the heat, dust and humidity.
Structurally, FutureHaus consists of SIPs (structurally insulated panels), while the rooms are installed as prefabricated "cartridges" containing furniture and cabinetry, as well as wiring, etc. The concept is clearly effective as the Virginia Tech team was the first to assemble their home in the entire competition and it took under two days.
Visitors enter the home through an entry space that includes a hatch for drone deliveries. The living room contains flexible furniture and is envisioned as a home office in the day, living room in the evening, and an additional bedroom at night, if required.
Nearby is the kitchen, which has internet-connected gadgets, including touchscreen displays and a table with integrated touchscreen TV. It also has an induction cooktop, sink and faucet, a fridge, and other appliances. In a nice touch, the cabinets are height-adjustable for improved accessibility.
The bathroom features an efficient flushing toilet and a shower with an integrated water recycling system. The home's garden area is planted with local greenery that requires little water.
FutureHaus gets power from a roof-based solar panel array that's hooked up to four batteries and sends excess juice back to the grid.
Having won the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, FutureHaus is now being disassembled and shipped back to the US. For the future, the team is researching the possibility of scaling up its prefabricated construction methods in a factory, perhaps with a view to eventually selling its homes.
Head to the gallery to see more on the home as well as a look at the second-place runner-up, Australia's University of Wollongong's Desert Rose.
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