Solar Decathlon, Parsons NS Stevens

Another favorite home from 2011 Solar Decathlon:

2.  Empowerhouse: Parsons NS Stevens’ Entry

The Empowerhouse design was a collaboration between Parsons The New School for Design, Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School and Stevens Institute of Technology.  The project took on a slightly different mission than that of New Zealand’s first light house.

The house, much like the New Zealand home, was kept fairly simple, with a straightforward profile and a clean and simple floor plan.  This house, however, is set to become a Habitat for Humanity home and will be sited in a neighborhood in Washington D.C.  Not only is it to be sited in D.C. but the home will actually add a second story and a second home will be constructed which mirrors the first and will create a duplex on it’s final site.

The team’s mission of becoming a Habitat for Humanity home was reflected in winning the Affordability Contest.

The design is comprised of a couple of key features:

Living ‘Dry’ Module

The living module occupies the west side of the home and is comprised of the bedroom, the living loft (which will eventually become the stairway to the upstairs bedrooms), and the primary living space in the home.

Service ‘Wet’ Module

The wet module occupies the east side of the home and is comprised of the mechanical room, the bathroom, and the kitchen.  This condensing of systems is a strategy many of the homes in the competition implemented, including the Ohio State entry.  Further, it’s something we also pushed for in the design for 701 Shelby.

For me, however, the keys features of the home that really stood out were the details on the interior.  There were some really great, beautiful details that took the home from being good to being more than just good.

The first is the way the windows were trimmed out on the interior.  Instead of simply framing out the window, the team took a leap and created more of a faceted, asymmetrical design for the window framing.  The window itself begins to become more than just a window, almost a piece of art in the home.

The other feature of the home that made it stand out from the others was the furniture in the living space.  The furniture wraps the stairway which will lead the eventual second floor bedrooms.  It becomes the focal point for the living space, and serves a variety of functions from shelving, storage, a workspace, to a spare fold-out murphy bed.

Check out the Empowerhouse website for more information on the house, from passive house strategies to systems design and tons of photos:

Empowerhouse

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