On Thursday 15 May a team of TU Delft students will present Prêt-à-Loger: a ‘second skin’ that can turn a typically Dutch terraced house into an energy-neutral and more spacious home. The students will enter their concept in the 2014 Solar Decathlon – the Olympic Games of sustainable building – to be held in Versailles, France, this summer.
Annemarie van Doorn, director of the Dutch Green Building Council, will officially open the building on the site of Groothuis Wonen (TBI Holdings) in Harbrinkhoek (Twente). The TU Delft student team has constructed a copy of the parental home here of one of the students from Honselersdijk, a terraced house from the ’60s. Through the application of a ‘second skin’, the students show how these types of houses can be made energy-neutral, while at the same time creating additional living space. There are 1.4 million comparable houses in the Netherlands that would be able to provide their own energy in this way.
The concept is called Prêt-à-Loger, home with a skin, ready to be lived in because the residents can continue to live there when the second skin is applied. Residents are able to retain the qualities of the warm home they are attached to, while at the same time enjoying additional living comfort. This is achieved by applying an insulation layer on the northern side of the building and a smart glasshouse construction on the southern side, creating a heat buffer in the colder months and providing energy throughout the year. This construction creates the additional living space. In winter, it serves as a glazed sun lounge in which residents can continue to enjoy the greenery, whereas in summer the whole construction unfolds to become part of the garden once again. In order to be able to construct the house and the concept, the students are collaborating with numerous partners, including Univé.
Sustainable Dutch garden in the palatial gardens of Versailles
In addition to the house, Nico Wissing and Lodewijk Hoekstra of NL Greenlabel are also making the garden more sustainable. This is achieved by employing contemporary applications and design in combination with responsible use of materials. This includes using locally sourced labelled products as much as possible that are also energy efficient and non-toxic. During the Solar Decathlon, they will lay the garden adjacent to the palatial gardens of Versailles so that both the house and the garden form a sustainable whole.
The Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is investing in the project through the Energy Leap Innovation Programme. Energy leap is a driver for the movement which encourages to convert as many existing homes and offices in the Netherlands to energy-neutral ones. Prêt-à-Loger demonstrates that living in a consisting house without having to pay energy bills is already possible. As such, the concept is emblematic of the transition of existing housing to energy-neutral living and is a perfect example of what the Energy Leap programme is trying to achieve with its Dutch campaigns De Stroomversnelling (High Currents) and Ons Huis Verdient Het (Our House is Worth It).
Transported to Versailles
The 2014 Solar Decathlon will take place in Versailles where the twenty teams participating will build their houses and a festival area will be erected. Following various tests, the TU Delft team will dismantle the house in Harbrinkhoek and leave for France in mid-June in order to reassemble the house and associated garden.
The competition between 20 universities from around the world will take place at Versailles, adjacent to the Sun King's palatial gardens, between 28 June and 14 July. Twenty houses have to function independently for two weeks, using only solar energy. The entries are assessed on ten criteria, hence the name Decathlon. With over 300,000 visitors, this is an opportunity for companies, students and universities to showcase their know-how and products on the world stage. The other entries are new-build villas or plans that consist of new-build additions to existing premises.