U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun

Solar Decathlon 2011

Team Belgium: Ghent University


Team website: www.solardecathlon.ugent.be

Team Belgium aimed for simplicity with E-Cube, its entry for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. This approach resulted in a design that is stripped of its nonessential components and finishes, leaving its structure and façade exposed to the interior. The ultra-efficient house is conceived as an affordable building kit that can be assembled in days rather than months.

Design Philosophy

The team was primarily interested in creating a comfortable, solar-powered house with a lot of space on a small budget. A conscious effort was made to avoid letting gadgetry dominate the overall experience of the house, so technical installations were grouped in a small compartment, and the photovoltaic system was placed on the flat roof out of sight.


The four principles that define E-Cube are modularity, affordability, flexibility, and efficiency. Features include:

  • A compact shape that minimizes thermal energy loss through the building envelope

  • A façade made of fiber-cement boards with the same dimensions as the triple-glazed window elements

  • A spacious and luminous raw interior that it is missing most of the conventional finishes.


The technologies used in E-Cube include:

  • A standard pallet rack system that creates the main structure using a bolt-less assembly process

  • A plug-and-play electrical wiring system that is integrated into the structure for easy installation

  • A spacious floor plan that can be expanded by adding more floor panels on the existing beams.

Market Strategy

E-Cube offers ample interior space and an environmental design adapted to Belgian conditions. The market appeal of the house lies mainly in the simplicity of construction methods and the potential for affordability. The house is essentially a building kit for a relatively inexperienced builder. As such, E-Cube may appeal to the would-be self-builder who lacks the time and knowledge to build a house from scratch.


Steven Van Dessel
Vakgroep Architectuur en Stedenbouw
Jozef Plateaustraat 22
Ghent, Belgium, B-9000
Phone: 32-9-264-9577

Photo of a group of people inside E-Cube. Enlarge image

The members of Team Belgium (courtesy of Team Belgium).

Illustration of E-Cube. Several silhouettes stand outside. Enlarge image

A computer-generated rendering of Team Belgium's E-Cube (courtesy of Team Belgium).

A computer-animated preview of Team Belgium's design concept, created December 2010.

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