Friday, 12 October 2012

Solar Decathlon 2012 / Part 2

Patio 2.12 House

Winner of the Solar Decathlon 2012 is the Canopea House, designed by the Rhône-Alpes Team, closely followed by Patio 2.12 from Team Andalucia... a house with a great cooling system based on evaporation. 

The 18 houses on contest have been monitored over a period of 2 weeks and have been given a score for their performance in 10 different sections. The Canopea House, winner of the competition, has scored highest in Comfort, Architecture, Innovation and Operations whereas Patio 2.12 has excelled in Energy Efficiency, Balance of Electricity and Communication.

The Patio 2.12 is an interesting construction made with four prefabricated volumes, organized around an enclosed courtyard. Each volume has a function: sleeping, cooking, living and technical. They are lined internally with treated cork (from recycled wine corks) and clad to the outer face with clay panels.

The courtyard is covered with a triple-glazing and leafy looking external louvers. The glazing can open to release hot air whereas the louvers are fixed and rotate to close or open position. When closed, their irregular shape and metal finish give a lovely shade to the courtyard. Shame though that the overhead-glazing hasn't got sufficient pitch to avoid ponding and there are nasty stains everywhere in the glazing.

Patio 2.12 House Courtyard

The cooling system of the house is smart though. It follows the principle of the traditional botijo, the unglazed clay jug used in Southern Spain to keep and to cool water. The botijo cools water by evaporation. Once filled and placed in the sun its porous material allows water to filter through it and to evaporate once in contact with the outside, dry environment. Evaporation requires thermal energy which is extracted from the water inside the jug, cooling it down up to 10C. The cooling system of the house works the same way. It relies on ceramic hollow panels in the cladding. Water drops into the panel's cavity and when it evaporates, it cools down the cavity. An air draft brings the cool air into the building.

The traditional botijo

The Canopea House by the Rhône-Alpes Team is one of the few projects that has considered the urban context. The team, concerned by the lack of urban space, has designed a house that can be stacked into towers and helps fighting urban sprawl. The "Nanotowers" incorporate features such as farms to grow food and a communal space at the top of the building with a summer kitchen and a common laundry room. A buffer zone around the building lowers the heat loss in the winter and protects from the sun in the summer.

Canopea House
Canopea Nanotowers

The Ekó House by Team Brazil is a lovely construction surrounded by bamboo sliding screens. The bamboos are differently spaced in East and West facades. The house has a dry composting toilet that works without flushing water and grey water treatment through macrophyte plants.

Eko House

Eko House bamboos screen

Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 / Madrid, 14 - 30 September 2012

Patio 2.12 House by the Universities of Sevilla, Jaén, Granada & Málaga / Spain
Area:    107.13 m2
Est. energy production:     16,378 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:     2,982 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €500,000

Canopea House by the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Grenoble / France
Area:    195.9 m2
Est. energy production:     12,733 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:     6,305 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €700,000

Ekó House by the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina + Universidade de São Paulo / Brazil
Area:    47.59 m2
Est. energy production:     21,157 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:     6,836 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €450,000

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 / France

Photos by PS