Since the 1950s, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House has rested peacefully in a cornfield in Plano, Illinois. Now, the house will be getting a new neighbor – VirginiaTech’s winning Solar Decathlon residence, Lumenhaus (be sure to check out our previous coverage of the house here). As the name suggests, the residence focuses on maximizing the exposure to natural light (Lumen meaning power of light), and in terms of aesthetics, the house also pays homage to the BauHaus movement. More about the Lumenhaus after the break.
Inspired by the Farnsworth House’s spatiality, the contemporary pavilion provides free flowing spaces that attempt to connect the interior with the natural surroundings. To build upon Mies’ idea of northern and southern exposure, the Lumenhaus incorporates a fully automated Eclipsis System where independent sliding layers filter the light throughout the course of the day.
“Lumenhaus epitomizes a whole building design construction approach, in which all the home’s components and systems have been designed to work together to maximize user comfort with environmental protection…it uses technology optimally to make the owner’s life simpler, more energy efficient and less expensive,” explained the team. The solar powered zero-energy home operates completely self sufficiently, and its systems can be regulated by an iPad – a technology so familiar to us but one that can still give us great control over our environment. The public will be able to view this house in April 2011 and its proximity to Mies’ work will show their interesting relationship. Although the Lumenhaus has used Mies’ principals and theories as a starting point to then apply more technological advanced systems, the two represent very different times. As Avinash Rajagopal explains for Metropolois, “In comparing the two houses built sixty years apart, we will be able to see what we have gained – in technology and sensitivity to the environment – but also perhaps what we have lost. The Farnsworth house is an ethereal glass box, floating above the ground, all but disappearing into its landscape. The Lumenhaus is a decidedly more substantial creature: all shining steel, gray photo-voltaics and colorful lights. The energy efficient house might be doing more to protect the environment, but it is undoubtedly the Farnsworth house that affords a deeper and more satisfying aesthetic appreciation of nature. The great architectural classic apparently still has a thing or two to teach its sustainable descendants.”