Students design a house that revolutionizes urban design “Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building


VIRTUE, a team of students from the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands have created a housing program to transform city life. The self-contained housing model called Ripple strives to create a ripple effect with its innovative design that encourages residents to embrace a sustainable living mindset. VIRTUE developed Ripple for the Solar Decathlon Europe 2021/22 (SDE21) in Wuppertal, Germany, where they will face 17 other teams in the summer of 2022.

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The theme of SDE21 is “solutions for the cities of tomorrow”. The projects can belong to one of the following three categories: those which renovate pre-existing buildings in Wuppertal, those which serve as a filling between the interstices of the urban fabric or those which attach to an existing building and serve to increase the density sustainably. urban. Ripple falls into the latter category.

Related: Eco-Friendly Housing Redefines Tanzania’s Urban Architecture

Top view overlooking the roof garden with wooden deck and raised solar panels

The Ripple house is mostly built with recycled wood. Solar panels color matched to the tone of the wood are used to harness solar energy. Depending on the site, the solar panels can be moved or oriented differently in order to best capture the sunlight. By capturing photovoltaic energy mainly from the exterior walls, the roof is freed up for urban agriculture and can be used to create a microclimate that promotes the biodiversity of the region.

View through a desk to a living space with shelves and a bed at the back facing a picture window

Each unit is made up of modules centered around a fixed technical core. Two apartments are connected to each other by a common area consisting of the living room and the kitchen. An interface is included to control the integrated systems of the house. Depending on the program of the interiors and the requirements of the inhabitants, the modules for the kitchenette and the bathroom can be moved as needed, while the larger pieces of furniture contain integrated storage compartments to maximize the small space.

View of the kitchen beyond the living areas with a wood-clad interior and built-in wood shelves

To streamline maintenance, the house has self-sufficiency systems including solar hot water system, heat pump, ventilation and EQUI smart home system. EQUI ensures that energy is distributed as efficiently as possible throughout the day. The system uses information from the weather forecast to roughly calculate how much energy will be stored each day. Additionally, residents can use the system to power equipment when solar energy is at its peak to maximize the use of passive energy sources.

EQUI control system interface

Along with home systems, VIRTUE has developed an application called Recapp that connects to home systems and city facilities. The app is used to encourage residents of Ripple Housing to achieve various sustainability goals. This playful approach connects people to their urban environment and pushes them to undertake small lifestyle changes that respect the environment that have significant impacts over time.

Corner view of a timber-clad house on a wooden deck beside benches with built-in planters

Overall, Ripple embodies three principles for multi-faceted success: engaging, adaptive, and active. The design incorporates beautiful architectural details alongside innovative technology, while remaining flexible to meet the needs of the site and residents. In addition, the integrated technological systems actively focus on positively changing the mindset of residents, thereby encouraging them to adopt more environmentally friendly habits.


Images via VERTUe


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