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ADAPTHAUS: Net-Zero for the Win

True to its name, the University of Illinois’ ADAPTHAUS is a highly flexible innovation in modular, net-zero housing.

A Home that Adapts with You

As we move through life, our housing needs invariably change. “Home” for a single young adult living with roommates looks much different than it does for a growing family or for two retired empty nesters. As we age we require different spaces with different amenities and functionality — it’s a concept we’ve explored in some considerable depth here at Resource Furniture, most notably with our sponsorship of the Making Room exhibition at the National Building Museum.

Of course, moving into a new home that better suits your needs isn’t always a practical or cost-effective solution, and neither is altering your existing space every time you undergo a life change. What if there were another option — a home specially designed to adapt to your changing needs over time?

ADAPTHAUS was created by the interdisciplinary Illinois Solar Decathlon student team for the US Department of Energy’s 2020 Solar Decathlon, a biannual collegiate competition that challenges students to design and construct high-functioning, low-carbon homes with the goal of improving quality of life, reducing the cost of housing, and mitigating climate change through solar power and other types of sustainable technology. The winning homes are those that best blend design, architectural, and engineering innovation with market potential, efficiency, and clean energy production.

Illinois Solar Decathlon began its involvement with the Solar Decathlon competitions starting in 2007 with its project ElementHouse, a concept home designed to provide utility-independent housing for temporary or seasonal use, or in emergency housing situations following a natural disaster. Illinois Solar Decathlon has competed in every Solar Decathlon since. As the team’s sixth Decathlon venture, ADAPTHAUS combines all of ISD’s past experience — culminating in a 1,200-square-foot, net-zero, and affordable housing concept that places people at its very center.

The University of Illinois’ latest venture, ADAPTHAUS, brings this idea to life. True to its name, ADAPTHAUS is a prefabricated concept home comprised of modular, flexible units that can be adapted in virtually all respects to accommodate the housing needs of any demographic, from young professionals to aging populations.

Flexible Floorplans Made Possible with Transforming Furniture

To reduce net energy to zero and maintain cost-effectiveness, ADAPTHAUS uses advanced solar arrays and a number of climate-conscious building methods, such as special insulating window treatments. Its prefabricated, modular design provides an inexpensive housing option for young professionals and first-time home buyers. As a family grows, modules can easily be added on or off-loaded to accommodate the occupants’ changing space needs, meaning homeowners need only to maintain a single property throughout the course of their life. As children move out of the house, empty nesters may even choose to partition off certain modules to earn extra rental income in their retirement.

To maximize the home’s livable space, modules are fitted with an array of transforming furnishings provided by Resource Furniture, the North American leader in multi-functional and space-efficient design and a longtime sponsor of the Solar Decathlon competitions. Using multi-purpose wall beds, transforming tables, small-footprint seating options, and more, ADAPTHAUS offers hyper-flexible layouts that can effortlessly transition from day to night, allowing every square inch of space to be utilized effectively 24 hours a day.

Module A

ADAPTHAUS is comprised of three modules, the first of which functions essentially as a self-contained studio apartment and contains a full kitchen, bathroom, and flexible living/sleeping area. The living/sleeping zone is furnished with a Tango Sofa wall bed, which transforms from a loveseat to a queen-size bed with the pull of a handle, discretely located under the wall bed’s display shelf. In front of the Tango Sofa, the Passo coffee-to-dining table lifts and expands by way of a hidden lever and two self-storing leaves, comfortably seating up to 10 people when fully extended.

In the kitchen, the Barra Free mobile countertop slides diagonally or side-to-side to create extra counter space on the kitchen island when needed. The Pyt Barstools and Zesty dining/task chairs offer lightweight, stackable seating that can be easily stored away or moved about the home.

Modules B & C

The second module, perpendicularly situated to the west of the main module, houses the two dedicated bedrooms and an additional bathroom. On the home’s north-facing side, a third module contains a flexible live/work/entertainment space with a movable, acoustically insulated wall and a number of other transforming furniture pieces. In this unit, Resource provided a Dublin banquet and a Genie height-adjustable coffee table, as well as a Penelope Sofa queen-size wall bed, Specchio transforming mirror-to-table, and a New Concept Table fold-down work surface.

Designed for Wellness

At a time when people rely on their homes more than ever before, ADAPTHAUS presents an affordable, flexible, safe, and energy-efficient housing concept that promises to meet the present and future needs of a variety of housing demographics. The home is strictly ADA compliant, which makes it possible for residents to comfortably age in place. For a world shaken by a global pandemic, the home’s advanced CERV2 smart ventilation system protects indoor air quality and ensures the health and safety of occupants.

ADAPTHAUS will be donated to Habitat for Humanity after the April 2021 Solar Decathlon competition, though Illinois Solar Decathlon will be hosting virtual tours for the public through the Spring. To learn more about ADAPTHAUS and Illinois Solar Decathlon, please visit or follow the team on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Our Longtime Commitment to the Solar Decathlon

As the leader in innovative space solutions, Resource Furniture believes in flexible, efficient housing designed with adaptation in mind. Illinois Solar Decathlon’s ADAPTHAUS is perfectly aligned with our mission and vision for the future of design, and we are honored to sponsor ISD and the Solar Decathlon competition. For more on our work with past Solar Decathlons, click here.