Students to build a sustainable Kiwi bach for US competition

A group of architecture students from Victoria University  will build and ship a sustainable Kiwi bach to a worldwide design competition in the US.The 40-strong team is the first from the southern hemisphere to be selected for the award winning Solar Decathlon 2011 run by the United States Department of Energy.Twenty finalists from around the world have to design and build solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

A group of architecture students from Victoria University  will build and ship a sustainable Kiwi bach to a worldwide design competition in the US.

The 40-strong team is the first from the southern hemisphere to be selected for the award winning Solar Decathlon 2011 run by the United States Department of Energy.

Twenty finalists from around the world have to design and build solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

The team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency will become the winner.

Anna Farrow, a member of the team, said the group’s project design aimed to reflect the Kiwi culture.

“We started with the Kiwi bach as our design inspiration because it combines all the things that we value about the Kiwi lifestyle.

“[The bach] is a small multifunctional footprint that everybody crams into in the summer so the emphasis is on socialisation is key to our design.

“And also the way that it sits on the landscape we thought was a really key New Zealand aspect of life.

“We are not one to keep the doors closed and air condition the building; we much prefer to open the doors out and have passive ventilation and really connect with the landscape,” said Miss Farrow, who graduated with a bachelor of architecture with honours from Victoria in 2010 and is now studying for a masters.

The 700-square-feet structure, dubbed First Light, will generate energy from rooftop photovoltaic cells and produce hot water with a roof-mounted evacuated-tube system.

The use of timber, an abundant natural and local resource, will ease construction and reduce costs, making the house affordable.

The project will cost an estimated $US250,000.

Miss Farrow said architects can help reduce consumption of the world’s resources by cutting down material use, sourcing sustainably produced products, using climate-specific design and allowing the temperature and air quality to regulate naturally.

“The Solar Decathlon has given us a great opportunity to put into practice all of the above, and to meet, share and promote this knowledge throughout the world with our international peers.”

The house will be built in New Zealand first and displayed for public viewing in Frank Kitts Park in Wellington during April and May before being shipped to Washington DC where it will be on display on the National Mall for three weeks.

Construction will begin in Wellington early in 2011.

The first Solar Decathlon was held in 2002.

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