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

Solar Decathlon 2011

Florida International University

perFORM[D]ance House

Team website: solardecathlon.fiu.edu

Florida International University's U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 entry, the perFORM[D]ance House, responds to its environment, its inhabitants, and its use. Its open pavilion design links the interior with the exterior through a layered fa├žade and integrated landscape, and operable louver panels open to extend the interior space and expand the livable space to the exterior. The ever-changing configuration is driven by environmental conditions, resulting in an interactive performance that showcases sustainable strategies and technologies.

Design Philosophy

The design of the perFORM[D]ance House incorporates lightness and open spatial continuity reminiscent of Paul Rudolph's Cocoon House. The house incorporates key elements of tropical design, including louvers, a continuous flat roof, and an expansive horizontality.


The perFORM[D]ance House features:

  • Operable louvers that raise and lower as needed for privacy, shading, and protection against hurricane-force winds

  • A fully retractable glazing system on the windows that provides relief from the heat and humidity of South Florida

  • An exterior deck with a garden and biofiltration pond

  • Bio-remediating beds that treat storm-water runoff collected from the roof using native landscaping that filters sediment, reduces runoff, and oxygenates water.


Florida International University's house is an elegant hybrid of technology and design that achieves livability and sustainability using:

  • Passive design strategies such as natural cross-ventilation, canopy shade devices, and daylighting to reduce demand on mechanical systems

  • A ductless air conditioning system that uses micro-climate zoning to increase comfort while decreasing load

  • Sensors, timers, and remote controls to provide system automation that increases efficiency and reduces operation and maintenance costs

  • A weather station with monitoring capabilities that allows homeowners to monitor energy production and use, solar panel performance, and water consumption

  • A reflective white exterior to reduce cooling demand.

Market Strategy

The perFORM[D]ance House was designed for a Hispanic-American couple whose children are off in college. Juan Gonzalez is a self-employed contractor and green building advocate. Alice Gonzalez is a former art history professor who has an illness that requires her to use a wheelchair. These empty-nesters have always wanted to retire to the sunny, subtropical climate of Miami, Florida.


Marilys Nepomechie
PCA 386 A
School of Architecture
Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Miami, FL 33199
Phone: 305 348-1887

Photo of a group of people standing in front of a large, modern building. Enlarge image

The Florida International University Solar Decathlon team (courtesy of the Florida International University Solar Decathlon team).

Illustration of the perFORM[D]ance House  in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. People mill about outside. In the distance is the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. Enlarge image

A computer-generated rendering of Florida International University's perFORM[D]ance House (courtesy of the Florida International University Solar Decathlon team).

A video walkthrough of Florida International University's Solar Decathlon house.

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