Techstyle Haus was an interdisciplinary, cross-continental collaboration between students, faculty, and industry professionals. In June 2014, we were the first team to enter Solar Decathlon with a complete textile enclosure and perform to the passive house standard.
Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition that challenges 20 collegiate teams from around the world to design, build, and operate a solar-powered house. After 18 months of preparation, the teams build the house in 10 days and are judged in 10 main contests - architecture, engineering & construction, energy efficiency, communication & social awareness, urban design transportation & affordability, and sustainability.
Our team focused on materials - How can we utilize building materials and construction methods to create more sustainable processes and lifestyles? We decided to work with textiles for their flexible, lightweight structure and rapid construction. Through a collaboration between Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Brown University, and the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt, Germany, we built Techstyle Haus.
The Techstyle Haus Book
After the competition, I led the design and content creation for a book that documents the experiences and design specifications of Techstyle Haus. Student and faculty members of the team wrote in-depth descriptions of the design and engineering of the house and pitched in stories about their experience with the team. I worked with RISD Head of Graphic Design Nancy Skolos to finalize the design layout.
The printing was generously sponsored by Saint-Gobain, one of our main sponsors for building materials and source of expertise.
We are proud that the book is fully bilingual in English and German, all translated by humans and not robots. :)
Communicating Techstyle Haus
As Co-Communications Coordinator, I worked with a talented Communications team to strategize and produce how we presented ourselves to the public. Because we were working with advanced technology, we knew we had a lot of explaining to do. Our key objective was to educate people about Techstyle Haus and inspire them to think, act, and live differently.
Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 was held in Versailles, France just 10 minutes from the Chateau. During the competition, an estimated 80,000+ people visited the Cite du Soleil (Solar City). I arranged a guided tour of the house in both English and French, curated a tactile material library, provided fun postcard takeaways, and designed graphic displays on Surface Tablets provided by Microsoft.
As part of the competition, we presented to the Communications jury (Marie-Helene Contal, Theresa Nahan, and Yolanda San Roman), placing 6th in Communications. During the final awards ceremony, we were also thrilled to win 3rd place in Comfort Conditions, proving the feasibility and high performance of our design.
The RISD Graphic Design Department held a class in Spring 2013 to develop a website for Techstyle Haus. We selected Anna Pasenen’s design and developed a brand identity based on its concepts and visuals. The website was coded by Sam Wilcoxon.
We connected with a wide audience with vivid photos and fun blog posts. I managed the team’s facebook, twitter, instagram, and tumblr.
In Spring 2014 we developed a project video to tell the story Techstyle Haus and its innovative use of materials and technology, written and edited by Eloise Sherrid.
We had the pleasure of working with professional press coordinators at the RISD and Brown media offices (Jaime Marland and Kevin Stacy) to connect with the press. Throughout Spring and Summer 2014, Techstyle Haus was featured in major US publications such as the New York Times, Metropolis, Archdaily, and Inhabitat. It landed an article in Le Monde during the competition and was featured in a 12-page spread in GI Magazine.
We extended events beyond Solar Decathlon and connected members of the local community in both New England and Germany through giving talks and hosting workshops.
After the competition ended in July 2014, the house moved to its final site in the Domaine de Boisbuchet, a country estate located in Lessac, France. Every summer it hosts art and design workshops taught by famous designers from around the world. The owner Alexander von Vegesack curates a collection of architectural pavilions on site alongside the workshops.
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