A house for all seasons

Architect Todd Fix has designed the concept for a house that changes shape depending on the weather.

“Motus” is a smart house. Designed with the idea of creating a sustainable, green, zero-energy home, Fix and his team wanted to remove themselves from a the typical ‘Passivhaus’ design, which works off solar energy to prevent energy-loss.

Instead of using materials that would typically assist in keeping energy in the home, ‘Motus’ is surrounded in glass. This glass isn’t your run of the mill window glass though. Depending on the light, the time of day or the temperature, the materials adapt to create a response that works to minimise energy usage.

For example, to adapt to sunlight, the glass will turn on a sun-blocking shade or to adapt to cooler temperatures it will activate an insulating shell.

“It provides this flexible control over heat gain from sunlight,” architect Todd Fix told Fast Company. “So if it’s a cold day, the sensor will sense that, and it will close both to keep the heat inside. If you want more light in the space, you can open up the screen or open up the shell.”

The house is powered by a set of solar panels and a “microclimate pool” that sits underneath the house, using evaporation to cool the house on hot days.

The house, that ranges from 5,000 to 12,000 square feet, depending on configuration, is designed to be best suited for beachfront locations in temperate climates.

However, this smart design doesn’t come cheap. Prepare for a construction cost of between $3.5 and $10 million.

If price was no object, would you like to live in an adaptable, zero-energy home?


Students design stackable house of the future, perfect for urban living

Most people want to live close to the city, be it for the vibrant lifestyle, or for an easier work commute but congestion and increasingly high housing costs mean it’s just a dream for many.

Enter some savvy students in New York City who have developed an ingenious strategy to make city living not only infinitely more possible, but also more eco-friendly.

The undergraduate students at New York City College of Technology have designed a prototype home that is a glimpse into the future. The DURA house (diverse, urban, resilient, adaptable) is an impressive open-concept one-bedroom with features that make it a zero-energy, solar, weather-resistant living space.

Its weather resistant  attributes mean it could withstand disasters like Hurricane Sandy. The students design of a stackable unit including three layers of breathable membrane and air-tight sealing has survived testing by blowers.

Builders are currently completing the design that resulted from the collective efforts of 60 students, and slots neatly within NYC’s urban landscape at the end of a pier at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Alexander Aptekar, the City Tech professor overseeing the project, said “To go from having to draw it to seeing it live is an amazing experience for them.”

The environmentally conscious home looking straight towards the future, will compete worldwide in the Solar Decathalon – a student design contest in September. This will require disassembling the modular home into three parts, which will then be transported to Irvine, California for judging.

The house will then return to brooklyn where the students hope to donate it to someone in need, perhaps a disabled veteran.