On Monday, Columbus Day, I was working from home, but I needed to come into the office to reset my computer because it’s a cheap government P.O.S. and it froze. So because Wade was working a half day we decided to meet up with him and tour some of the Solar Decathlon houses down on the mall. Wade forgot the memory card in his camera so the only pictures I have are from my little Sony which is normally OK, But I am no professional Photographer. We were all really impressed with the designs and ideas. It’s a totally different experience to actually go inside the houses and see up close what they’ve done with the technology and the space. There were long lines for all of them so we just chose three to visit that day.
Puerto Rico, The Ohio State, and Team Alberta.
I really liked the Puerto Rico house, but it was definitely designed for tropical life, it felt very open despite only having 640 sq feet of air conditioned space. The rest was open to the deck, only protected by sliding screens. The bed/wall was cool and I liked that it slid back to give the house more room. But what didn’t make sense is that when you moved the wall back, presumably because you were having a party, then you blocked access to the bathroom from the inside of the house. I would have asked about this, but I didn’t think about it until later.
The Ohio State house was “very Ohio” and “kind of Ikea”. I liked that they used reclaimed barn wood on the outside and I always like artificial wetlands. The inside was very open and modular. In fact it seemed like it was just one big room with dividers. All white and white stained wood. I really liked the entertainment center/dining room table/couch/cabinet wall, it was very efficient and very sleek. But the interior design could have used some work. I think it just looked too stark, too “IKEA”, for lack of a better term. Good house, but I couldn’t live in it.
University of Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic, Alberta College of Art + Design, Mount Royal College
This was by far all of our favorites. The design of the outside used reclaimed wood and stone from Alberta but still had a very modern and expensive look. On the technology side they claimed not to use many fancy technologies but instead chose to design elaborate control systems to use them more efficiently. The design feature that really hooks you is that they have a small (6 inch) window/skylight running through the middle of the house. Through two hallways, shower, and ceiling. It’s really striking to see all the way through a slice of the house. And the natural light it let into the shower was really beautiful. The living space was similar to the others in that it was extremely multipurpose with a folding/spinning dining table and counter top. Stairs to access the rooftop were hand cranked into the ceiling to have them out of the way when not in use. The bedroom was standard but did have a large open door that made it seem like part of the deck, which felt very cool. The house was very well designed and decorated.
I hope to get back down to the mall to visit a couple more houses before the end of the competition. All of them look very interesting on the outside, I can’t wait to see them on the inside!