Images credit University of Maryland
I am not a good judge of architectural competitions. In most cases, I find the winner to be a compromise, and the runners-up far more interesting and innovative. But not in this year's Solar Decathlon, where it all came together for the University of Maryland.
WaterShed came first in the architecture competition, where Judge Michelle Kaufmann called it "an elegant mix of inspiration, function, and simplicity"
But it also came second in market appeal, where building industry professionals ask "Does the house have curb appeal, interior appeal, and quality craftsmanship? How well do its sustainability features and strategies contribute to its marketability? Does the house offer potential homebuyers within the target market a good value?"
Architects and building industry types don't often agree about aesthetics, but here they did. Maryland also tied for first (with six others) in Energy Balance, where " a team receives full points for producing at least as much energy as its house needs, thus achieving a net energy consumption of zero during contest week." Given that it was raining much of the week, that is an accomplishment.
The solar decathlon had really been turning into an expensive arms race, to see who could spend more to add jazzier green gizmos. The introduction of the affordability category changed everything, creating real-world scenarios where lessons learned here are transferable and replicable. The Maryland entry was elegant, the technology was affordable, the plan livable. They could print these.
Congratulations to the University of Maryland, and to Stephen Chu and the Department of Energy for a great competition.
More on Maryland's Entry:
University of Maryland Wins Architecture Contest at Solar Decathlon
Solar Decathlon 2011: Maryland