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2011 Solar Decathlon: 4D Home
Bringing a bit of heat to the 2011 Solar Decathlon's New York area-based teams is the 4D Home from Team Massachusetts, a dwelling designed to keep energy bills low while adapting to a family's changing needs.
Having lived in both Boston for nearly five years and New York City for over six, I’m somewhat intimate with the
fiery hatred healthy rivalry that frequently bubbles up between the two Northeast metropolises (particularly when it comes to baseball). Who knows if the longstanding antagonism between the cities will actually rear its belligerent head at the 2011 Solar Decathlon but with not one but three homes (ENJOY House, Empowerhouse, and Solar Roofpod) from New York-area teams in competition in addition to today’s featured home, 4D Home from Team Massachusetts (Massachusetts College of Art and Design and UMass Lowell) the thought of it adds a nice dose of drama to late September's already fiercely competitive solar homebuilding event.
Boston/New York showdown or not, 4D Home looks to be a thoughtfully designed contender. Dubbed 4D Home in reference to the fourth dimension, time, this 945-square foot abode was designed to anticipate “the changes that will occur over time in all respects: daily, seasonally, yearly, and over the lifetime.” Superinsulated and designed with stringent Passive House standards, the home is inspired by classic New England architecture and, perhaps most notably, features asymmetrical timber trellises that provide seasonal shading, support to the 28-panel rooftop solar array and “echo the house’s gable form” while also offering “shelter from the elements at each entry.”
While the exterior of 4D Home is remarkable, the flexible, art-filled interior is anything but an afterthought — “much of what makes a house a home is what’s inside” reads the 4D Home website — and showcases hand-crafted furnishings, housewares, and décor from MassArt students (I’m really looking forward to seeing all of this when I head down to D.C. to tour the Solar Decathlon homes myself). Also inside the two-bedroom home is a Whirlpool refrigerator that consumes only $42 worth of electricity a year … about the same as a 60-watt incandescent light bulb.
The home, geared towards a young family of three with an annual income of around $100,000, will be moved back to Massachusetts post-competition and a family will be sought to move right on in. Currently, 4D Home is being constructed at Marine Industrial Park in Boston’s Innovation District where it will be open to public tours through mid-September before moving to D.C. for the Solar Decathlon, kicking off on September 23 and ending on October 2.