Architecture

Sustainable and modular FutureHaus wins 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East

Sustainable and modular Future...
The 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East is an offshoot of the main competition in the US and also tasks students with building prototype solar-powered houses
The 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East is an offshoot of the main competition in the US and also tasks students with building prototype solar-powered houses
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Following several years of research and development, an accidental fire and rebuild, and a month spent in the Dubai desert, Virginia Tech students have won the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East with the FutureHaus
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Following several years of research and development, an accidental fire and rebuild, and a month spent in the Dubai desert, Virginia Tech students have won the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East with the FutureHaus
Virginia Tech was the only American team in the competition
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Virginia Tech was the only American team in the competition
The FutureHaus team is researching the possibility of scaling up its prefabricated construction techniques in a factory setting
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The FutureHaus team is researching the possibility of scaling up its prefabricated construction techniques in a factory setting
The FutureHaus was assembled on site in less than two days 
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The FutureHaus was assembled on site in less than two days 
The 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East is an offshoot of the main competition in the US and also tasks students with building prototype solar-powered houses
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The 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East is an offshoot of the main competition in the US and also tasks students with building prototype solar-powered houses
Having won the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, FutureHaus is now being disassembled and shipped back to the US
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Having won the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East, FutureHaus is now being disassembled and shipped back to the US
FutureHaus gets power from a roof-based solar panel array that's both hooked up to four batteries and also sends excess juice back to the grid
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FutureHaus gets power from a roof-based solar panel array that's both hooked up to four batteries and also sends excess juice back to the grid
FutureHaus' garden area was planted with local plants that can withstand the desert heat and require little water
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FutureHaus' garden area was planted with local plants that can withstand the desert heat and require little water
FutureHaus' garden area was planted with local plants that can withstand the desert heat and require little water
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FutureHaus' garden area was planted with local plants that can withstand the desert heat and require little water
FutureHaus' living room contains a rotating TV with art on the rear side and some bench seating
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FutureHaus' living room contains a rotating TV with art on the rear side and some bench seating
FutureHaus' bedroom features a Murphy-style drop-down bed 
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FutureHaus' bedroom features a Murphy-style drop-down bed 
FutureHaus' bedroom also features cabinetry
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FutureHaus' bedroom also features cabinetry
The Desert Rose from the University of Wollongong in Australia produces more energy than it uses
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The Desert Rose from the University of Wollongong in Australia produces more energy than it uses
The Desert Rose features an outer wall made from lightweight recycled crushed glass 
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The Desert Rose features an outer wall made from lightweight recycled crushed glass 
The Desert Rose was designed by students from the University of Wollongong and came second place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East
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The Desert Rose was designed by students from the University of Wollongong and came second place in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East
The Desert Rose's roof comprises 100 roof tiles that double as solar panels capable of generating hot water as well as electricity
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The Desert Rose's roof comprises 100 roof tiles that double as solar panels capable of generating hot water as well as electricity
Render showing the Desert Rose's interior layout
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Render showing the Desert Rose's interior layout

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.

FutureHaus' living room contains a rotating TV with art on the rear side and some bench seating
FutureHaus' living room contains a rotating TV with art on the rear side and some bench seating

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.

The main bedroom has a drop-down Murphy bed, a smart mirror and a smart mattress that tracks sleep patterns.

FutureHaus' bedroom features a Murphy-style drop-down bed 
FutureHaus' bedroom features a Murphy-style drop-down bed 

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.

The FutureHaus team is researching the possibility of scaling up its prefabricated construction techniques in a factory setting
The FutureHaus team is researching the possibility of scaling up its prefabricated construction techniques in a factory setting

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.

Sources: Virginia Tech, FutureHaus, UOW

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