The 2011 Solar Decathlon is on! For those of you who don’t know, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. This year one of those 20 teams is from Massachusetts and is comprised of students from Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) and University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMASS Lowell). The team has been hard at work on their entry, the 4D Home. Their approach is to anticipate how a dwelling and its occupants will change over time the team thus transforming 1000 square feet into a housing option that exemplifies a sustainable New England home.
I had an opportunity to see their progress at a recent show held at MassArt and it was not only impressive from a quantity of work standpoint, but in the thoroughness of research and depth of the thinking behind their design. The gallery walls were lined with process; research, sketches, models, all of it telling the story of how this team is turning their concept into a reality. And it doesn't just end with the house, the team has even designed sustainable furniture to populate their space with! The key is really the unique student body and the complementary skill sets that each institution brings to the table. MassArt team member Chelsea Kelley said it best,
"Even though our team represents a variety of backgrounds such as architecture, engineering, construction, wood-working, and graphic design, this all-encompassing project has really forced us to challenge ourselves and gain experience in areas that we may have never thought twice about. The Solar Decathlon has given us the opportunity to create something that we all feel passionate about. This is why we all dedicate so much time to seeing this to the end, even on top of our own work and course loads."
Team Massachusetts has some big plans for this summer and we’ll be covering them as they progress so be sure to check back here and on their website for more info in the coming months. We’re looking forward to seeing what they have in store!