Solar Decathlon 2011: Ghent University, E-Cube

[Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing coverage of Solar Decathlon entries leading up to the event’s kick off on Sept. 23.]

Ghent University of Belgium is bringing its E-Cube to the 2011 Solar Decathlon. This modular home looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie, but is in reality based in the idea of total simplicity, with extraneous components eliminated, making its structural features visible from the outside. It’s also designed to be constructed quickly and easily by its owners, in a matter of days rather than the months it would take to build a traditional house.

Image via Ghent University

E-Cube is also designed to be affordable and streamlined, with its PV array hidden on the flat roof, and considerable effort was made to avoid bogging down the house with too many gadgets. The house can also be assembled in stages, based on the individual needs of the residents. E-Cube’s aesthetic is not plush; the exterior are fiber-cement boards around the triple-glazed windows, and the interior is devoid of most traditional home finishings.

Image via Ghent University

E-Cube features a standard pallet rack system that allows for the house to be assembled without use of bolts, and the electrical wiring is designed to be easy to installed. More floorspace can be added by simply installing floor panels onto existing beams. All of these features are created for a consumer without much construction experience at all, and so the Belgium team imagines that the E-Cube would be ideal for someone interested in a highly efficient, modular home, but who lacks the skill and time to build a traditional home.

The final plans for E-Cube are not yet finalized, but it will be returning to Belgium after the Decathlon. Ghent University hopes to set it up on campus to serve as either a research center or housing for visiting professors.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.

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