Czech Republic: Czech Technical University
Team website: www.airhouse.cz
Czech Technical University designed the AIR House for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 and for the generation of 50+-year-olds who are empty-nesters and nearing retirement. Many of the team members' parents fall into this demographic, which inspires a compelling conversation about senior housing. The AIR House, a prototype for an affordable (A), innovative (I), and recyclable (R) house, is designed for the Czech tradition of spending weekends in the countryside. Czech seniors can use the AIR House as a weekend getaway during their pre-retirement years and as a permanent residence after retirement.
The AIR House offers an energy-efficient, environmentally responsible house that considers its inhabitants' comfort and health. The house design features a "house within a house" principle, in which a minimum interior living area combines with a generous outdoor area. The AIR House—including the load-bearing structure as well as the thermal insulation, façade, finishing, and furniture—is made almost entirely of wood. Materials were selected according to their effects on the five human senses. Visual comfort respects the human circadian rhythm; the house's artificial lighting is programmed to correspond to natural lighting conditions.
- Natural wood fiber thermal insulation envelops a living area that features a wood façade, finishing, and furniture.
- A solar wooden canopy protects the enveloped area from sun and wind while generating electricity.
- A painted do-it-yourself wall façade enables occupants to write and erase messages.
- A charging station powers a pedelec (electric bicycle).
- A generous outside terrace expands the interior space for cooking, gardening, relaxation, and storage.
- An integrated edible natural garden mediates between the house and its surroundings.
- PV panels generate all the electricity needed to operate the house.
- Wood fiber insulating material regulates moisture levels and provides acoustic and thermal insulation.
- A solar water heating system ensures the preparation of hot water.
- A radiant chilled ceiling system provides comfort and stability to the interior environment.
- When needed, an air-conditioning unit with a direct evaporator conditions the relative interior air humidity and supplies fresh air.
- A greywater system collects water from the shower and wash basins, filters it, and reuses it to irrigate plants, thus reducing water consumption.
Because senior housing presents an imminent social topic in the Czech Republic, the AIR House is designed to foster health and social community among active retirees. To accommodate this target group, the AIR House emphasizes accessibility in the arrangement of space, along with health‐enhancing, easy-to-use features. Comfort, independence, and social engagement are fostered by a unique integration of indoor and outdoor spaces.
The team is working with the Czech Technical University to determine the best future use of the AIR House. The team hopes that the AIR HOUSE becomes part of the University Center for Energy-Efficient Buildings, which will be opened by the end of 2013. The center will focus on the reduction of energy demand in buildings, efficient use of renewable resources, intelligent control systems, and and indoor environment. Ideally, the house will become an experimental laboratory for collecting data, analyzing energy efficiency, and testing new materials and technologies.
Dalibor Hlavacek, PhD.