September 18, 2013
This blog was written by ASUNM team member Kevin Christensen at Arizona State University with a Master in Architecture.
5:30 A.M.: The Sun begins to break over the mountains in the distance, the air is still cool, the racket still hasn’t really started yet, it’s calm. The 3:30 A.M. wake up call is all but second nature at this point, it’s worth it for these few precious hours without the Sun’s relentless heat. Soon the sky will be a brilliant shade of orange, the power tools will start sounding more frequently and the day will be in full swing.
Outside, the team is formulating their plan for the day, already making a list for the first trip to Home Depot and taking measurements or checking a drawing. Today’s priorities: finishing up some fabrication on the solar canopy and doing some work on the chiller. Work begins and before we know it it’s time to take a quick break to show a VIP around the house.
Inside, the crisp, white furniture — designed and manufactured in Italy by Clei — is newly repackaged, waiting for shipment in less than two weeks. It was quite a different story only a few days ago, all of the pieces were assembled and polished, eagerly being shown off during our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, often to the response of “Woah, that’s crazy” and “Wow, I wish my furniture could do that.” It was a fun moment to be able show off how well the furniture worked in the space, not to mention being able to finally have that feeling of “wow this actually looks like a house!”
SHADE aspires to be a model for sustainable desert living, and one of our initial concepts was being able to quickly transform the spaces in the house to be able to perform various functions. Having a smaller footprint, with more actively used re-configurable space not only means less material is needed to build the house and less energy is consumed than in traditional homes, but also means that users of the home can customize the space based on what is going on during any given day. Having some friends over for dinner? Easy, the Goliath dining table quickly expands from seating two people to comfortably fitting ten. Have a relative in town? Not a problem, the Flex Space easily accommodates this, the LGM Tavolo morphs from living room bookcase to bed in under 30 seconds and the sliding partition wall closes to make the once public space a private retreat. Want to host some neighbors on the large front patio? Everyone can have a seat thanks to the Cubista which goes from ottoman to seating for five in no time.
SHADE aims to balance the desire for traditional amenities with forward looking view of how residential space can be occupied. We hope that by allowing the homeowner be in charge of how the home’s space functions, it allows for a more flexible lifestyle while simultaneously using less of our precious resources and building stronger communities.
Beyond the architectural strategies, SHADE aims to showcase several engineering features for sustainable desert living. For starters, the solar array easily produces enough energy to make the home net-zero; the capillary radiant cooling and heating system aim to make indoor life more comfortable by mimicking the way bodies naturally regulate heat and reducing indoor air contaminants associated with typical forced air systems; and the thermal storage unit, a rarity in such small applications, allows energy to be stored at night when electrical rates are low and used during the day when they are high.