Decoding Design

WaterShed wins Architecture Contest of Solar Decathlon

WaterShed wins Architecture Contest of Solar Decathlon

Posting in Architecture

The University of Maryland's WaterShed won the Architecture Contest of the 2011 US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

The University of Maryland’s WaterShed won the Architecture Contest of the 2011 US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. The project’s elegant use of materials, thoughtful  integration with the natural environment  and well documented and well presented design process make it easy to see why.

The Architecture Contest of Solar Decathlon is one of six juried (out of ten total) contests. Judging for the contest (and the University of Maryland’s design approach) was based on the following criteria:
1. Architectural elements (scale, proportion, indoor/outdoor connections, composition, and consistency)
At 900 square feet, WaterShed is reasonably sized as a live-work space for a couple. The house is a simple composition of three volumes with an inverted shed roof. Vertical gardens and two decks with integrated greenspaces provide connections to the outdoors as well as visually extending the spine of the house that collects and distributes water.

2. Holistic design

WaterShed is a house that interacts with its environment, the Chesapeake Bay watershed, by managing storm water on site, treating and reusing greywater and minimizing overall water use.
3. Lighting
The house’s open floor plan and large areas of access to outdoor spaces, and translucent wall panels  allow natural light to filter in throughout the home. The artificial lighting in the home is provided by energy efficient LED fixtures.
4. Inspiration
Using the Chesapeake Bay as their inspiration, the University of Maryland team’s design intent was to emphasize the relationship of the house to its environment. The project’s simple roof form expresses the path of water on and into the building. The gardens used for stormwater management are meant to encourage people to consider their own environmental impact.
5. Documentation (visual and written products that reflect and record the project and the design process)
Over 200 University of Maryland students and professors  from multiple disciples collaborated on the design and building of the project. The entire process is clearly presented on the team’s website which includes easily understood diagrams of the many systems integrated into the WaterShed.

As of Thursday September 29, the University of Maryland is leading the 2011 Solar Decathlon. The overall winner will be announced Saturday October 1, 2011.

Related on Smart Planet: Solar Decathlon encourages designs within financial reach, E-Cube: A DIY solar home from Belgium
Images: Jim Tetro/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

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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