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Solar Decathlon: German Team Takes Top Prize In Engineering

ECOLAR houseWe’ve been bringing you periodic updates from the various contests that make up the Solar Decathlon Europe competition this year. Earlier this week we brought you word that Canopea, by the team from Rhône-Alpes of France and and Counter Entropy, by the team from RWTH Aachen University in Germany, had claimed the top two spots in the Architecture contest. Now we bring you the top two winners in the Engineering and Construction contest: ECOLAR, by the team from University of Applied Science Constance in Germany, and Odooproject, by the team from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary.

ECOLAR took top marks in the Engineering and Construction category via a smart, efficient design that makes use, notably, of hemp insulation. Though outlawed in a number of countries, fast-growing hemp is both abundant and cheap (especially as compared to, say, old denim), and here it helps to minimize thermal losses through the home’s floors, walls and ceiling. Another key feature of the home is the fact that it is constructed using six modules (four of which are interior and two form patios), and can be designed as small or large as the customer desires. That means that pretty much everything about this house can be customized, including its columns, walls, windows and even roof.

Inhabitat notes that this kind of design requires enormously precise construction — a factor, no doubt, in the home taking top marks in this portion of the overall competition. The judges praised the team’s thoughtful incorporation of modularity in their final remarks on the contest, as well as the team’s incorporation of several solar solutions (the home incorporates semi-transparent panels integrated into the building’s facade, as well as a rooftop array). Finally, the overall ecological and financial sensitivity of the project helped to put it over the top

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