By Kaylen Auer
PBN Web Editor
By Kaylen Auer
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – The “Techstyle Haus” designed by a team of students from Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt, Germany, has placed 14th overall in the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe competition.
The competition, which ended last week in Versailles, France, challenged 20 collegiate teams from all over the world to build efficient, comfortable and sustainable solar homes. Each house was judged in ten different categories during the two-week competition.
The Techstyle Haus, which is, literally, a textile house with a flexible exterior using high-performance material with solar cells laminated to the fabric, placed third in the “comfort conditions” category and achieved top 10 scores in communications and social awareness, house functioning and energy efficiency.
The house that won first place overall was “Rhome for Dencity,” designed by students from Università degli Studi Roma Tre in Rome, Italy.
“The Solar Decathlon has been an amazing and crazy experience,” said Helen Bergstrom, a rising senior in Brown’s School of Engineering and a Techstyle Haus team member. “It was an incredible opportunity to show our peers, professionals and the world that 35 students are capable of building the future.”
The Techstyle Haus was designed to maximize efficiency and sustainability, using heat from appliances and occupants’ bodies to minimize the energy required the keep the house warm. Greywater from sinks, showers and appliances in the house is filtered and recycled to irrigate gardens that surround the house’s exterior walls.
During its two weeks at Versailles, an estimated 20,000 people toured Techstyle Haus, according to a release from RISD.
“Leading public tours at the Cité du Soleil has been an extremely rewarding experience, and it has been especially exciting to receive such positive feedback from the general public,” said Isby Lubin, a rising junior in Brown’s School of Engineering. “People have been pleasantly surprised by the acoustics and volume of the interior space. Few things have been more fulfilling than the offers by some of our visitors to move into our house.”
The Techstyle Haus project was nearly two years in the making. After the team was accepted into the competition in December 2012, students refined their designs, engineering the house’s key systems and enlisting sponsorships from companies all over the world. The team began construction in Providence in February 2014 and completed construction in May before dismantling the house to be shipped to France and reassembled for the competition.
The students are currently dismantling Techstyle Haus once again in order to move it to its final destination at Domaine de Boisbuchet, where it will serve as student housing at the site of annual interdisciplinary art and design workshops in Lessac, France.
“I’m delighted that [the house] will continue to inspire and to turn heads at its permanent home at the Domaine de Boisbuchet,” said Derek Stein, associate professor of physics and engineering at Brown and a faculty advisor for the project. “More importantly, Techstyle Haus has built a cohort of students who understand how to improve the housing sector. I hope that many will choose to design sustainable housing, develop energy efficient building materials, or push for stricter building codes.”