Demountable Constructions: The Case of a Solar Decathlon House

By Camilo Rosales.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

he 2011 Florida International University (FIU) Solar Decathlon studio considered unique challenges of design and construction for a Solar Decathlon house: the house had to satisfy two drastically different climate zones, it had to be built for tropical Miami (Florida), and also meet requirements of temperate Washington DC. The house had to satisfy two different building codes, the strict code of hurricane-prone Florida, and the building code of the District of Columbia. The house also needed to adapt to various possible uses after the competition. Mohammed Shanti’s proposal called TRANSTROPIC HOUSE was envisioned as an open and flexible pavilion that transacts with its climatic circumstances and transforms itself according to the environmental conditions of its use. A contemporary interpretation of traditional tropical architecture, the TRANSTROPIC HOUSE was designed with a transparent exterior skin that adapts to ventilation patterns by allowing various levels of enclosure. The double skin of exterior glass panels was designed to capture heat during winter and insulate the building as needed. The exterior panels could also close tightly as hurricane shutters. Innovative building-integrated photovoltaic and solar thermal systems were planned to provide the highest levels of comfort for visitors with minimal impact on the environment. Modular and demountable construction was designed to ease assembly in Florida, transportation to Washington D.C., erection at the National Mall, and moving the house back to Miami. The final destination envisioned for the FIU Solar Decathlon House is to become a visitor’s center for FIU’s Ecological Preserve. The adaptable nature of this project makes it a perfect case of demountable and sustainable construction.

Keywords: Demountable, Climate Zones, Sustainability

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.97-109. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 770.771KB).

Prof. Camilo Rosales

Associate Professor of Architecture, College of Architecture + The Arts, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA

Prof. Rosales, AIA, is an Associate Professor of architecture at Florida International University and an award-winning practicing architect based in Miami, Florida. Mr. Rosales received a Master of Architecture II from Harvard University and a Master and Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a registered architect in the states of New York and Florida. He has received design and teaching awards from the American Institute of Architects and a fellowship from the International Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS, Germany) for work related to sustainable design. Mr. Rosales' academic work is a reflection of his practice, which seeks to integrate nature, culture and technology. Mr. Rosales worked in New York for I.M. Pei and Partners, for SOM (in joint venture with Frank O. Gehry) and with HOK. He also worked with Arquitectonica in Miami. Publications of his built work include Abitare magazine, Architectural Digest, AIA Guide to Miami, the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture magazine among others.