Dept of Energy Decathlon: Sustaining Systems in a New Way
The necessity to produce sustainable solutions that allow for reasonable use of available resources can be considered the primary course in which modern architecture has been developing over the past few years (Toledo, Cropper, & Wright, 2016). Because of the need to manage resources sparingly, the idea of using alternative sources of power, such as solar power, remains the driving force behind numerous creative ideas in modern architecture, as the results of the Decathlon Europe 2014 have shown (“Maison Reciprocity row house design,” 2014). The Maison Reciprocity building is one of the most successful architecture designs represented at the Decathlon Europe 2014.
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Maison Reciprocity: The Power of the Solar Energy
Because of the opportunities for optimizing the operations of all systems and providing an opportunity for using solar energy to reduce waste levels, Maison Reciprocity deserves to be placed at the top of the list of recent innovative technological solutions. Although its design is primarily aimed at reducing the usage of non-renewable energy sources, the building is constructed with the help of numerous types of materials, including insulating glass, cross-laminated timber, and similar sustainable resources (“Maison Reciprocity row house design,” 2014). The specified choice reflects the goals of Decathlon Europe 2014 as the event aimed at enhancing the production of sustainable solutions that would encourage sensible usage of non-renewable resources (see Appendix A).
The clever use of photovoltaic panels allows accumulating solar energy for its further use as an alternative source of energy for various purposes in the house. The fact that, among the energy-producing parts of the house, the facade can also be described as intelligent deserves a mentioning (“Maison Reciprocity: Goals and technologies,” 2014). The house incorporates a range of systems that serve the common purpose of reducing waste and the consumed energy to a minimum (see Appendix B).
Mission and Key Achievements: Sustainable Use of Resources
The idea of encouraging a rational use of finite resources can be regarded as the key mission that Decathlon Europe 2014, in general, and Maison Reciprocity, in particular, strives to achieve. As stressed above, every single element of Maison Reciprocity was designed to reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy sources and limit the amount of waste produced in the process. However, outside of the specified goal, Maison Reciprocity has several other objectives that, while not being as evident as the previously stated one, nevertheless, add a new meaning to the building.
The use of the brise-soleil building shell that is incorporated into the structure of the house, in turn, can be viewed as a solution to not only accumulating the energy produced by the sun but also prevent the heat from being absorbed by the walls and the ceiling of the house. In other words, it serves as a refractor of sunlight, thus, leading to a more efficient process of consuming solar energy for its further conversion into electric energy and its use for household purposes.
Students, Designer, Architect, and Engineer: Key Information
When considering the people that worked on the project, it would be wrong to single out a particular participant since the house is a collaborative result. Among the people that made it possible for the Maison Reciprocity to exist, one must mention Jamie Russell and Francois Thibault, the advisors, Daphne Carriére, a student who participated in implementing the project, Mark Bridges and Scott Hopkins, who were in charge of communication, Michael Germano, the project architect, and Lukas Burgher, the project engineer. In retrospect, it was the cooperation of a vast range of experts and the interdisciplinary communication process that led to the creation of Maison Reciprocity (“Maison Reciprocity: Goals and technologies,” 2014).
Assessing the Systems: What Makes the Building an Outstanding Piece
When considering the advantages of the house, one must mention the architect’s success in enhancing every single system within the house, therefore, making it an outstandingly innovative house with a unique design that contributes to a change in the use of finite resources. The use of the solar power systems can be viewed as the most impressive element of the house. By incorporating the bristle soleil elements into its design, the author of the project managed to sustain the enclosure system within the space of the house by containing the energy obtained from the sun within the house. As a result, the opportunities to protect the water system within the house are created (“Maison Reciprocity: Goals and technologies,” 2014).
Furthermore, the house incorporated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, according to the statement made by the creator of Maison Reciprocity. The photovoltaics and the solar thermal that the obtained solar energy will help sustain will create an opportunity to maintain the systems mentioned above in a working condition. Thus, the specified systems will be not only activated but also incorporated into a single framework. The idea of unifying the specified systems can be regarded as the groundbreaking concept that makes Maison Reciprocity so unusual and important in the process of safeguarding finite resources and reconsidering the current approach toward waste management. The identified strategy will allow reducing the ecological footprint left by the humankind.
The use of the chord that allows distributing the accumulated energy to power the rest of the systems within the house seems reasonable and aligns with the concept of sustainable usage of resources that the creator of the house supports and encourages. In fact, the chord can be deemed as one of the elements that set the house apart from its replicas since it represents several systems at the same time. The simultaneous inclusion of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing elements into the chord as a prefabricated unit is a groundbreaking idea that implies creating a structural envelope, i.e., a thing in itself that represents a closed system and allows obtaining solar energy to keep the crucial processes within it running.
The design of the building helps make it compact without shrinking it to the point where living in it becomes uncomfortable. Instead, the creators of the house adopt a minimalistic approach to link all systems together and make the house function impeccably. By designing Maison Reciprocity as a tiny house, the architects managed to reduce the levels of energy consumption to a considerable degree. As a result, the house retains the elements that define its quality (e.g., cross-laminated timber as one of key materials), simultaneously helping cut the levels of resources consumption significantly (Grozdanic, 2014a).
Conclusion: Addressing the Challenges of Sustainability
In the realm of the 21st century, the issue of using renewable energy as opposed to finite resources is becoming increasingly more important. Maison Reciprocity is one of the projects that suggest improving the current use of resources and waste management strategies by integrating building systems into a single entity. The chord framework suggested by the creators of the house allows for an elaborate usage of resources, at the same time connecting all systems within the house into a single framework. As a result, opportunities for reducing waste levels and, thus, minimizing the ecological footprint becomes a possibility.
Grozdanic, L (2014a). Tiny 100% solar-powered Maison Reciprocity house shines at the Solar Decathlon Europe. Web.
Grozdanic, L. (2014b). Tiny 100% solar-powered Maison Reciprocity house shines at the Solar Decathlon Europe [Image]. Web.
Maison Reciprocity: Goals and technologies. (2014). Web.
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Tiny 100% Solar-Powered Maison Reciprocity [Image]. (2014). Web.
Toledo, L., Cropper, P. C., & Wright, A. J. (2016). Unintended consequences of sustainable architecture: Evaluating overheating risks in new dwellings. WEb.