An art academy in France, Domaine de Boisbuchet, now has a solar-powered building designed by students from Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt, Germany. The house was part of an international solar competition last year.
The solar house was designed to use only as much energy as a blow dryer uses to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It was constructed on a rural campus, where no other buildings have heat.
Jonathan Knowles, an associate professor of architecture at RISD and one of the team’s faculty advisers, said it will house artists year-round – something the school hasn’t been able to do in the past. For the next couple of years, the students who designed the house will monitor its energy usage.
“We want to make sure we have the data to back up that it's working,” said Knowles. “We did something that's never been done before. And it's really important to have the metrics behind the architecture.”
Knowles said the students will use the data to learn how to improve the performance of the house and figure out how to make it less expensive to build.
On top of being energy efficient, the solar has is tied to the electrical grid of the campus, “so when the house is not being used, it can provide energy for other studio buildings or other facilities,” said Knowles.
The French art academy is interested in adding more of these energy efficient buildings for its campus down the road.
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