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2013 Solar Decathlon: AIR House

CTU Team

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

2013 Solar Decathlon: AIR House

Project Status

Student Work


U.S. Department of Energy



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Project Description


Early design of our competition prototype. The Air House is a model of future housing. To its inhabitants it offers a comfortable interior environment that will appeal to all their senses. It is easily constructed and transportable. It utilizes energy effective technologies and materials and respects the environment. The AIR House has a flexible layout that easily adjusts to actual needs of the AIR House inhabitants, and reacts to the versatile outside conditions.

Our Vision
Houses of the future should have positive influence on the life quality of their inhabitants, to improve their environment physically and psychologically. Houses of the future must have a minimum environmental impact throughout the whole life-cycle of the building, including its construction, operation and demolition.

Architectural Concept
The concept combines a minimum interior living area with a generous outside area. The economy-sized disposition is based on the tradition of minimal housing, where an ingenious architectural design saves space and therefore saves purchase and operating costs. Our goal is to place a maximum of functional units outside the air-conditioned area and thus minimize the amount of energy needed to maintain interior comfort. The sun deck with an edible natural garden functions as a mediator between the house and the surrounding nature. The direct link between the interior and exterior areas, its simple shape and wheelchair accessibility, allow for social activities and incorporation of the household inhabitants into the local social life.

The goal of our design strategy is to create a building that is energy efficient, maximally recyclable, and that will offer pleasurable shapes and surfaces that are „molded for the touch of the eye and other senses“(Pallasmaa, 2005). Our choice of materials reflects this mission.
Precise separation of material layers and mono-material preference helps easier recyclability at the end of the building’s lifecycle. As Werner Sobek would say, we would like to design „an erasable building“. The used materials should also allow for easy and effective maintenance with a minimum energy and raw material input.
The Cross Laminated Timber panels produce zero waste during their production. The panels do not emit any pollutants into the interior, and therefore create a pleasant odor microclimate. In the interior, the panels are used in visual quality, which simplifies later recycling and the presence of wooden surface has a positive effect on human psyche, it feels pleasant and warm.

For an animated explanation of CTU Team's AIR House, please watch their video:
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