Our design followed the guiding principal that a good architectural design works in harmony with the natural forces of its site to reduce its consumption demands. Designing for the Washington, D.C. climate requires consideration of the full range of seasons, necessitating a broad complement of responsive building strategies. At the building 's perimeter, a thick well-insulated shell, tightly constructed to inhibit infiltration, maintains comfort and limits demand on conditioning equipment. High performance windows are carefully configured to balance daylighting, view, and solar gains –responding uniquely to each orientation – with predominant glazing areas facing south and southeast to encourage passive winter heating. Awning clerestories, centrally located at the building 's highest point, work in concert with operable windows along each facade to promote natural ventilation. Solar shading is provided by a combination of fixed overhangs and movable shading louvers that allow occupants to optimize performance.
In accordance with the Base+ theme, our architectural design also incorporated an overall aesthetic design quality that is appealing to the masses as well as responding to modern tastes. Many of the high tech components of our design were coupled with pleasing architectural elements to create a delightful space.
Unique "B" Block
While the bedroom (A pod) and office (C pod) pods followed our modular design principles, we stepped away from the pragmatic rectangles of the "A"&"C" pods for the kitchen (B) pod. The unique shape of the "B" pod created an interesting and distinctive living space. The materials in this pod also have more personality than the more "tame' traditional materials in pods "A"&"C". In other Base+ applications the "B" pod's trapezoidal form opens up possibilities for other pods to be connected and allows for variation of personal architectural style.
The catwalk is a unique aspect of this design. Since we were unable to have a second floor, due to the height limits of the competition, we needed to use the upper ceiling space creatively. By placing a strong horizontal member (the aluminum beam) in the center pod, the upper half becomes useable space and provides a spatial hierarchy to the building 's interior. In this design the catwalk area will be used for a greenhouse/plant area and window maintenance (of the upper clerestories). Other Base+ designs, however, would extend that form into a full second story or balcony access for example.
The Techpod is considered the "brain" of the building and is a feature that will facilitate the construction of our building on site in Washington, DC. By incorporating most of the HVAC, plumbing equipment, and other building system components in this area, it allows the Techpod to be shipped fully assembled. Once it is at the site, there will be no significant equipment installation (only the battery pack needs to be inserted) and minimal connections to the rest of the house. Architecturally, the roof element of the Techpod is a very appropriate area for the placement of the solar thermal collectors, which have a different visual appearance than the PV panels covering the rest of the roof. The Techpod is constructed of steel and PolyGal (a translucent panel product featuring a low-E coating).
The house design followed a theme of education through visible elements. Plumbing, electrical, and mechanical elements remain exposed to provide education and enhance the architectural appeal of our building. The house also showcases structural elements that have architectural merit such as the central aluminum beam and exposed parallam beams and posts.
The BASE +building concept addresses the unique requirements of the Decathlon competition with a modularized fabrication approach that eases shipping and facilitates adaptability. Each pod is designed with highway travel in mind, therefore having manageable dimensions. The unique quality about the modularity of this Base+ design, however, is that the architecture and the beauty of the building is not compromised but rather enhanced by this component.