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Computer-generated image of the Georgia Institute of Technology 2007 Solar Decathlon house.

The light-filled Georgia Tech house features both state-of-the-art technologies and well-established ones, such as the clerestory, a row of clear windows above the walls of the house.

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Solar Decathlon 2007

Georgia Institute of Technology

Team Web site:

Bring on the Sun!

The Georgia Tech house is all about sunlight. These students are bringing on the sun... playing with light to see how it can transform and open up a living space.

"We've placed a great emphasis on light and bringing light into the house in unique ways," says Jason Mabry, a recent architecture graduate and co-leader of the construction project. "Visitors will be able to see how the house works within itself. They'll see all the technologies we're putting into the house to make it more livable and efficient."

The approach is most obvious in the use of translucent walls, made of two sheets of polycarbonate that enclose an aerogel filler. Aerogel, sometimes referred to as "solid smoke," is the lightest solid known. The material is an excellent insulator and is translucent, allowing filtered light to enter the home.

Even the building's roof transmits natural daylight. Made of translucent film, the lightweight roof comprises two layers—one of aerogel that insulates and another on top of that to shed water and drain the roof. Architecture student Alstan Jakubiec did the design drawings for the custom-built roof. "It's really exciting to have it on the house—this product is normally used for big installations like football stadiums," he says.

Joe Jamgochian, a recent Architecture graduate who co-leads the construction project with Mabry, relishes the opportunity to work in close collaboration with university professors, engineering students, and specialists in the construction industry. He is particularly proud of the team's work ethic. "There's been a real commitment by a core group of students and faculty to take individual responsibility for our project as a whole," he says. "They think of the potential issues ahead and address them."

Mabry echoes that notion. "You can sit in a design studio all day long, but the reward is to actually build it... to realize your design, build what you've drawn, and see what it's like in the real world."

Team Contact

Christopher Jarrett