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

Solar Decathlon 2013

Czech Republic: Czech Technical University

Team website: www.airhouse.cz

Czech Technical University designed the AIR House for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 and for the generation of 50+-year-olds who are empty-nesters and nearing retirement. Many of the team members' parents fall into this demographic, which inspires a compelling conversation about senior housing. The AIR House, a prototype for an affordable (A), innovative (I), and recyclable (R) house, is designed for the Czech tradition of spending weekends in the countryside. Czech seniors can use the AIR House as a weekend getaway during their pre-retirement years and as a permanent residence after retirement.

Design Philosophy

The AIR House offers an energy-efficient, environmentally responsible house that considers its inhabitants' comfort and health. The house design features a "house within a house" principle, in which a minimum interior living area combines with a generous outdoor area. The AIR House—including the load-bearing structure as well as the thermal insulation, façade, finishing, and furniture—is made almost entirely of wood. Materials were selected according to their effects on the five human senses. Visual comfort respects the human circadian rhythm; the house's artificial lighting is programmed to correspond to natural lighting conditions.


  • Natural wood fiber thermal insulation envelops a living area that features a wood façade, finishing, and furniture.
  • A solar wooden canopy protects the enveloped area from sun and wind while generating electricity.
  • A painted do-it-yourself wall façade enables occupants to write and erase messages.
  • A charging station powers a pedelec (electric bicycle).
  • A generous outside terrace expands the interior space for cooking, gardening, relaxation, and storage.
  • An integrated edible natural garden mediates between the house and its surroundings.


  • PV panels generate all the electricity needed to operate the house.
  • Wood fiber insulating material regulates moisture levels and provides acoustic and thermal insulation.
  • A solar water heating system ensures the preparation of hot water.
  • A radiant chilled ceiling system provides comfort and stability to the interior environment.
  • When needed, an air-conditioning unit with a direct evaporator conditions the relative interior air humidity and supplies fresh air.
  • A greywater system collects water from the shower and wash basins, filters it, and reuses it to irrigate plants, thus reducing water consumption.

Market Strategy

Because senior housing presents an imminent social topic in the Czech Republic, the AIR House is designed to foster health and social community among active retirees. To accommodate this target group, the AIR House emphasizes accessibility in the arrangement of space, along with health‐enhancing, easy-to-use features. Comfort, independence, and social engagement are fostered by a unique integration of indoor and outdoor spaces.

What's Next

After the Solar Decathlon, the AIR House will return to the Czech Technical University campus, where it will be reconstructed in spring 2014. For approximately one year, it will serve as an information and education center to further the team's outreach. Eventually, it will become part of the University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings, through which it will serve primarily as a research tool for doctorate students and research staff.


Dalibor Hlavacek, PhD.
Phone: +420777165450

Photo of the Czech Technical University Solar Decathlon  2013 team standing on a balcony marked with graffiti. Enlarge image

The Czech Technical University Solar Decathlon 2013 team (Courtesy of the Czech Technical University Solar Decathlon 2013 team)

The Czech Technical University audiovisual presentation

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