Buildings solar decathlon 2014

Published on July 12th, 2014 | by Amber Archangel


Techstyle Haus: House Of Fabric At Solar Decathlon 2014 (VIDEO)

July 12th, 2014 by  


July 12 is the date of the Innovation award at Solar Decathlon 2014 Europe, and the students from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Brown University and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany  — officially known as  “Team Inside/Out” in the competition — have their eye this prize.

Techstyle Haus is unique and a first for the competition; the roof and walls are not made of wood or metal, but almost entirely of durable, high performance textiles.

The team spent the spring semester in Providence, Rhode Island constructing the home’s structural supports, attaching its signature textile shell and adding the flexible solar panels that provides up to 50 percent more power than the house uses, before packing it into five shipping containers and shipping it across the Atlantic.

solar decathlon 2014Techstyle Haus | Solar Decathlon 2014 | © All rights reserved

The innovative house achieves the Passive House Standard by using 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a standard house. The plumbing, heating and cooling systems, placed in a compact mechanical core, are the picture of efficiency, running on the power it would take to operate a hair dryer.

The photovoltaic array covering the curved surfaces is innovative, lightweight, flexible and efficient – the curvature of which helps to capture more solar energy over the course of a day than a flat system would.

solar decathlon 2014Techstyle Haus | Solar Decathlon 2014 | © All rights reserved

The outer textile shell is made of a flexible fiberglass material called Sheerfill® II Architectural Membrane with EverClean® Photocatalytic Topcoat and is often used for roofs of domed stadiums, airplane hangars, and other large structures, but has never before been used in residential construction.

The team hopes to challenge the way people think about building materials and inspire us to push the limits of architecture, design and engineering. They’re even thinking about the structure’s life after Versailles.

After the competition, the team will bring the house to Domaine de Boisbuchet, the site of annual interdisciplinary art and design workshops, to act as student housing, and in doing so, promote the practice of sustainable living to future generations and serve as a model for a new type of living that works with all aspects of environment.

solar decathlon 2014

The truly interdisciplinary team, including art and design students from RISD, engineering students from Brown, and architecture students from Erfurt (who specialize in Passive House design in particular), consulted with companies from all over the world as they designed and built their house.

For a complete list of sponsors, please visit:

Author’s note: Good luck to “Team Inside/Out” in the Innovation challenge. We’ll bring you the news of the award as soon as we hear! 

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 is a FREE event and open to the public through July 14 in Versailles, France. The solar houses are open for visits on the weekend – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Fans of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon mark your calendars: Solar Decathlon 2015 will be held October 8-18, 2015, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

Source: 1Sun4All. Reproduced with permission.

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About the Author

-- I am an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, graphic designer, and constant student of many studies. Living with respect for the environment close at hand, the food chain, natural remedies for healing the earth, people and animals is a life-long expression and commitment. As half of a home-building team, I helped design and build harmonious, sustainable and net-zero homes that incorporate clean air systems, passive and active solar energy as well as rainwater collection systems. Private aviation stirs a special appeal, I would love to fly in the solar airplane and install a wind turbine in my yard. I am a peace-loving, courageous soul, and I am passionate about contributing to the clean energy revolution. I formerly designed and managed a clean energy website,

  • What a beautiful apartment.

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  • Does it actually meet the full Passivhaus standard, or just reduce energy demand by 90%?

    • heinbloed

      It produces 50% more energy than needed.
      Far better than a Passivhaus.

      • Thanks for your reply and good it produces a surplus of energy. That doesn’t make it better or worse than a Passivhaus standard building though. A tent could produce surplus energy but it wouldn’t meet the passivhaus standard!

  • Offgridman

    Having followed the progress of this project for awhile and being one of those rural inhabitants that it is designed for was really hoping that it would end up on display back here in the states, especially as two out of the three design member teams came from here.
    It has been very enjoyable touring the one in Cartersville, Georgia from years ago, and hopefully the one designed for the Chesapeake Bay is going to come back, but as for this one…..
    Oh well maybe someday.

    A PS for Kevin McKinney, One of the things that I have always loved about the older country style farmhouses is the high ceilings and open floor plans along with the big windows that make you a part of the environment you are living in. That this one does it while also being energy efficient is wonderful.

  • Kevin McKinney

    Stunning! Though it’s almost *too* open-style… 😉

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