Lumenhaus: Whole Building Design

We know well that prefab and steel construction are smart and effective, but other people have figured it out too. There’s a recent piece in Fast Company magazine covering an award- winning prefab house of a Virginia Tech University architectural team. This is special because not only is it heavily prefab and modular, it is also energy efficient and completely solar powered. In fact, the competition it won was the “Solar Decathlon,” which took place this year in Madrid.

Called Lumenhaus (here is the project’s website) the building’s goals were to “clearly demonstrate that solar houses can be built without sacrificing energy efficiency or comfort, and that they can be both attractive and affordable.”

Some of the features the house boasts are electronic systems monitored by an iPhone app, lighting from LEDs, and multiple glass walls for maximum sun exposure. The modular design can be extended to add bedrooms, thus giving the homeowner the flexibility to have a two, three or four-bedroom home.

What makes Lumenhaus different from other energy conscious offerings out there? According to the team:

Where most energy-conscious houses are closed with strategic openings to resist heat transfer, LUMENHAUS has open, flowing spaces linking occupants to each other within the house and to nature outside. The fully automated Eclipsis System, comprising independent sliding layers, permits a revolutionary design in a solar-powered house, while filtering light in beautiful, flowing patterns throughout the day. LUMENHAUS epitomizes a “whole building design” construction approach, in which all the home’s components and systems have been designed to work together to maximize user comfort with environmental protection.

This is a bit of fluffy writing, to be sure, and it doesn’t answer the question of how the house actually does deal with heat transfer. But hey, it must be pretty good if it can be run completely from sunlight.

Here’s a video tour of the house:

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