News to me, but in addition to the biannual Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC — check out my coverage of the 2009 showdown here — the first ever Solar Decathlon Europe is set to take place in Madrid in June 2010.

The Solar Decathlon Europe, sponsored by the US Department of Energy in partnership with the Ministry of Housing of the Spanish Government, boasts more of an international flair than the American event that included mostly homegrown teams with a smattering of Canadian and European entrants. Solar Decathlon Europe will feature 20 collegiate teams from countries including the UK, Brazil, China, Mexico, Finland, Germany, Israel, Spain, France, and the USA (the University of Florida and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University) duking it out in 10 contests to see who can design and build the most attractive, livable, and energy-efficient solar-powered home.

Although the actual competition is months away, the teams participating in Solar Decathlon Europe have launched websites and are sharing their designs. I caught a preview of the University of Nottingham’s entry, H.O.U.S.E. (Home Optimizing the Use of Solar Energy … how’s that for an anagram!) and thought I’d share.

Working with construction firm Saint-Gobain, the University of Nottingham’s impressive H.O.U.S.E. is set to be the UK’s first zero carbon starter home that’s completely solar-powered. The L-shaped home is designed for prefabricated, mass-market production and is built to be both practical and versatile since a series of the homes can be placed in rows or stacked.

Says the student team of their creation:

We believe a family house should be acoustically and visually permeable in its public areas to support family life; circulation space should be made into interesting and useful spaces, which form a key part of the house plan rather than just a link.

Part of this strategy was using storage walls to buffer between rooms. Walls double as shelving and bookcases and so reduce the need for extra furniture.

The use of two storeys also meant that we could free up enough of the architectural footprint to provide a courtyard garden. This external landscape is an integral part of the house design, as it provides a focus for the public areas of the house. It provides privacy, a shaded space in summer as well as providing enough space for the family to grow its own food (a large part of most family’s energy footprint).

In addition to the Solar Decathlon Europe, H.O.U.S.E will be appearing at Ecobuild in London in March of 2010. Great things to look forward to in the coming year … 

Via [Ecofriend]

Images: Nottingham House

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Gimme an H!
Get a sneak peek at H.O.U.S.E., the University of Nottingham's fabulously flexible zero carbon entry in Solar Decathlon Europe 2010.