Chicago’s Solar Decathlon Entry Designs Comfort After Disaster | Home Design Find

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Chicago’s Solar Decathlon Entry Designs Comfort After Disaster

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More than 4,000 international engineering, architecture and interior design students competed in this year’s solar decathlon, an annual competition run by the US Department of Energy in an attempt to drive the development of clean energy powered and efficient building.

This year’s affordability contest cut home costs by 33% compared to the 2009 competition, as Energy Secretary Steven Chu pointed out at the closing ceremony.

There are lots of great ideas. One of the most intriguing is a new shelter home designed to help victims of disasters adjust psychologically after losing their home.

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Chicago’s entry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Re_home offers a more sustainable housing solution for communities following a natural disaster. According to the team – who are aiming for a balance between good design and smart planning –

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In addition to the sustainable green aspects – like the solar panels here to provide clean green electricity –  that we expect to see in a solar decathlon entry, the Re_home responds not just to the physical but also to the all-impoortant emotional needs of displaced families.

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Thus the Re_Homes focus on design that evokes feelings of comfort and security, along with memories of better times. So often, design for disaster housing looks only at the most basic shelter needs of displaced families, overlooking the emotional trauma of losing a home.

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A flexible open plan floor plan makes it possible to be adjusted for two bedrooms if needed, by partitioning off part of the central living space.

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This rapid-response solution for families affected by natural disasters uses low-cost materials and a straightforward construction plan, with solar electric power straightforwardly incorporated along the porch overhang the full length of the home.

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The Re_home’s modular design allows the home to be transported via trailer in two segments and erected quickly on-site. If disaster strikes, the house can be mobilized quickly to its new location, and assembled within several hours to effectively shelter a family of four.

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A new home.

“From a home that filters polluted water, to a home that can house disaster victims, to homes that fit right into a Midwestern neighborhood or at the top of a New York City apartment complex, you’ve taken this year’s competition to a whole new level,” Energy Secretary Chu told this year’s competitors.

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