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

Solar Decathlon 2011

Team China: Tongji University

Y Container

Team China's U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 entry, Y Container, combines six recycled shipping containers into a succinct, Y-shaped solar house. Y Container is easy to transport, assemble, and expand—providing the freedom to live anywhere with low costs and clean energy. It is a living house that can contain the energy, water, and plants required for an individual to enjoy an independent and natural lifestyle.

Design Philosophy

Team China designed its solar house not only as a highly integrated solution for supplying energy and water but also as an answer to financial and transportation challenges. The team's design transforms prefabricated shipping containers into a modern living environment. Founded on the expectation that one can live anywhere freely, Y Container uses these standard modules and special conjunction components to help people expand their living space according to their wishes.


The architecture of Y Container features:

  • An expandable and blended space that provides divided functional areas linked through a consecutive spatial sequence

  • More opportunities to view the varying landscapes created in different sections of the yard.


Y Container incorporates innovative technologies to make the house flexible and adaptable under different circumstances. These include:

  • An integrated system that uses heat recovery from the solar thermal collector for the domestic hot water supply and the floor heating system

  • Vacuum insulation materials and phase-change materials that block heat transfer and moderate the interior temperature passively

  • A natural ventilation tunnel in the middle of the house that regulates air distribution and the fresh air supply without energy consumption.

Market Strategy

Y Container's target client is a young couple in Shanghai, China, where many young people cannot afford independent housing. Recognizing the gap between incomes and house prices in Shanghai, Team China has designed a solution.


Hua Guodong
Architecture and Urban Planning School
Siping Rd., No. 1239
Shanghai, China 200092
Phone: 0086-13681934755

Photo of a group of people standing in the shape of a Y. Enlarge image

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

Illustration of Y Container. Enlarge image

A computer-generated rendering of Team China's Y Container (courtesy of Team China).

A video walkthrough of Team China's Solar Decathlon house.

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