Team Web site: www.solardecathlon.upm.es/en/history-magic-box-2005.php
Inclusion seems to be the main theme of the entry for the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. It starts with the team, nearly 40 students from many different academic departments, all of whom will make the trip to Washington, D.C., for the Decathlon. The design effort began with an ideas competition, and elements of the top four designs were all incorporated into the house.
The inclusion theme continues with accessibility for the home occupants. Although the Madrid home has its share of high technology, the primary design objectives were to make it attractive and comfortable, so that it would appeal to anyone. You shouldn't have to be in love with gadgets to enjoy this flexible Mediterranean-style home with a great interior-exterior connection. Many of the controls are designed to work automatically. "Designing those controls, understanding when the various space conditioning and lighting systems should operate, and connecting sensors to them to allow them to operate automatically was the most exciting part of the project," says engineering student Álvaro Gutiérrez.
"Ownership" of the project was also inclusive. Although all the team members are Madrid Polytech students, all of Europe seems to have adopted the team. Advance construction of the home in Madrid was widely covered by the media, including more than 40 newspaper stories, 4 hours of radio interviews, and 15 television appearances. The house was the most visited exhibit at the Real Estate Fair of Madrid in May. It was also the centerpiece of a course for 20 students from universities throughout Europe during the summer. "Being the only European entry to the Solar Decathlon is quite an honor," says faculty advisor and telecommunications engineering professor Estefanía Caamaño-Martin.
The most distinctive feature of the Madrid Decathlon home is its versatility. A set of moveable walls allows it to be divided into three (bedroom/office, dining room/kitchen, living room) or five spaces, or to be totally open. The living room also moves to create an internal patio: this purely Spanish courtyard configuration enhances ventilation and makes a very enjoyable living space. "We call the house the 'magic box,' " says architecture student Sofía Melero.
Although fully constructed in Europe, the home had to be disassembled and packaged in eight containers for transport by ship to Washington, D.C., for the Decathlon—but a large and capable team is on hand to reassemble it.
Prof. Estefanía Caamaño Martin
Instituto de Energía Solar
Ciudad Universitaria s/n
28040 Madrid (España)
+34 91 336-7234