Decoding Design

E-Cube: A DIY solar home from Belgium

Posting in Design

Students from Belgium's Ghent University design and build a house that promotes ecologically and economically conscious living.

One of the most highly anticipated and closely watched entries for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 is a self-assembled kit for sustainable living from Team Belgium.  The E-Cube is an energy and cost efficient solar powered home designed by a team of students from Ghent University.

What makes the project a standout is not how it fulfills the zero energy objective (although the innovations alone are impressive), but the focus on affordability for the consumer as the base of design.  The E-Cube's modular, pre-engineered building system brings sustainable and energy efficient living, as well as home ownership, closer to reality for a larger population.

The five main elements of the E-Cube include:

1. A pre-assembled kit that encourages people to build their own homes, without special skills or tools

2. Adaptation of the Passive House Standard which allows the house to be heated using photovoltaic panels without a conventional heating system

3. Flexibility in adding and upgrading features so that a house can be realized and paid for in phases, when a family is financially able

4. Integrated electrical wiring that can be expanded by the homeowner without specialized knowledge or help

5. Modular, standardized components for ease in manufacturing, shipping, and assembling

Check out the virtual tour below:

Animated Video Walkthrough E-Cube - Team Belgium Ghent University from Team Belgium: Ghent University on Vimeo.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is in its fifth season.  Twenty student teams, selected from hundreds of proposals from around the globe, compete in the biennial event to design and build working energy efficient and attractive solar powered homes.  This year the Decathlon will take place from September 23rd through October 2nd on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  Visitors will be able to tour all 20 house entries for ideas and inspiration.

Image: Ghent University Solar Decathlon 2011

Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure