The Solar Decathlon, also called the “Olympics of Sustainable Architecture,” is a design competition that takes place biennially and challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are Net Zero Energy Buildings and are affordable, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends cost-effectiveness, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
Summer of 2013 will be the first year that a team from Israel will participate in this worldwide competition. Their hope was to develop and display a method of planning and design in which buildings could better respond to change, with the potential to be deconstructed, taken apart, modified and recycled. Values of environment, community, society and Israeli culture are all intertwined in a design that aims to raise awareness of these four elements and better incorporate them into Israeli architecture.
Read on for Team Israel's Decathlon design.
Team Israel's design for a house draws much of its inspiration from the Mediterranean “4 Room Israelite House”, an ancient building archetype found in archeological remains in the region from 3500 years ago, with rooms built around a central courtyard. It focuses on the link between the indoors and outdoors with a large patio that creates a gradual threshold from public to private space.
Other key features of the house are its striking angled roof, designed for optimal solar power, and its façade which integrates technological elements such as photovoltaics, solar thermal collectors and building-integrated PV together with vegetation. The “mashrabiya” on the external wall has a climatic as well as aesthetic function and integrates a culturally-specific feature into a modern design.
The building incorporates passive design features that create an improved thermal envelope that will maintain a comfortable living environment with minimal space heating or cooling. Windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject excessive heat in the summer.
Team Israel makes a point of using only environmentally-friendly materials throughout the house, incorporating a light steel frame structure and recyclable materials such as fiber cement board instead of traditional cement and FSC-certified bamboo. All house furniture is made out of these sustainable, resistant and recycled materials and can be arranged in different configurations to suit the owner's needs. The result is a flexible, sustainable design for a home that strongly reflects the environmental, cultural and social aspects of the Israeli region.
For more information on Team Israel's proposal, visit their website here.