Maison Reciprocity row house design ranks 9th in Solar Decathlon Europe 2014

The task: design, build and operate a cost effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered house, ship it to France and compete against 20 teams from 17 countries.

Appalachian State University came in 9th place in Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, with its design Maison Reciprocity, created in collaboration with Université d’Angers in France.

The competition, held June 28 – July 14, rated each house in 10 contests by a jury comprising construction professionals, technicians and scientists. The design with the most points won.

The 10 contests as part of the competition were:

  • Architecture
  • Innovation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Electrical energy balance
  • Comfort conditions
  • House functioning
  • Communication and social awareness
  • Urban design, transportation and affordability
  • Engineering and construction
  • Sustainability

Team Reciprocity placed first in the electrical energy balance contest and fourth in the communication and social awareness contest.

“This team has turned into a family over the past two years. It’s been an unbelievable journey to be able to celebrate the successes and the failures together,” said graduate student Mark Bridges, the project’s communications manager.

“We have also been supported by an incredibly encouraging and enthusiastic community from both sides of the Atlantic that without their help, we would not have made it to where we are today.”

Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said, “Competing in the Solar Decathlon is a tremendous academic experience for our students, who have applied their sustainable technology research in innovative, creative ways that will make a positive difference in our world. I am so proud of the many students and faculty who worked on this project, and join our community in celebrating their accomplishments.”

See the final scores

Learn more about the design

The net-zero energy house was constructed in Boone. Six 40-foot modules that comprise the house traveled by cargo ship to the French coast and were then trucked to Versailles, where students had 10 days to reassemble the structure for the two-week competition. The Maison Reciprocity blog quoted Jason Miller, faculty director of design, as saying the packaging and shipping process was “like summiting Mount Everest.”

Approximately 50 students from Appalachian participated in the primary design and construction of the home in conjunction with their international partners at the Université d’Angers. They called themselves Team REC.

Only three U.S. universities were selected to participate in Solar Decathlon Europe 2014. In addition to Appalachian, the competition included Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University who partnered with the University of Applied Sciences of Erfurt in Germany.

Maison Reciprocity is the second Appalachian design to compete in a Solar Decathlon event. Appalachian last competed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon with its Solar Homestead design. It won the People’s Choice Award.

About the concept

Maison Reciprocity’s row house design offers an answer to the lack of affordable, healthy, high-quality, durable, sustainable, and adaptable housing. As a low-rise multi-family housing structure with low environmental impact, Maison Reciprocity is constructed of entirely green and sustainable building materials and products.

Maison Reciprocity stemmed from the desire to design a house with perfect balance between reciprocal elements such as privacy versus interaction, aesthetics versus performance, design versus construction and spaces versus systems, according to the team’s website.

The concept created an open and adjustable environment which can evolve to fulfill the inhabitants’ needs over time. Density, flexibility and mass customization are key elements of the prototype whose main ambition is to achieve regional universality through smarter, adaptable, affordable and energy-efficient social housing solutions.

Appalachian’s entry will remain in France at Université d’Angers, where it will be on display for the public.

  • Solar Decathlon Europe 2014

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Aaron Fairbanks.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Aaron Fairbanks.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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      Photo by Aaron Fairbanks.

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      Photo by Dudley Carter.

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    Students from Appalachian State University and Université d’Angers worked together to build Maison Reciprocity, a net-zero energy house that competed in Solar Decathlon Europe 2014.

    The row house was built in Boone and shipped to France, where students had 10 days to reassemble the structure for the competition June 28 – July 14. The design offers an answer to the lack of affordable, healthy, high-quality, durable, sustainable and adaptable housing.