ISD Build Team 2019-2020

"Teams competing in the Solar Decathlon Build Challenge work during a two-year period to design and build their houses, culminating with the Solar Decathlon Build Challenge Event in Washington, D.C., in summer 2020. Participants design and build complete, functional houses to demonstrate creative solutions for real-world issues in the building industry. Teams will compete and exhibit their solutions before panels of industry expert jurors in Washington, D.C., as part of the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Select top-performing teams will also be invited to exhibit at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builder’s Show in 2021."

                                                                                                            - U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

Project ADAPTHAUS Introduction

The University of Illinois Solar Decathlon ADAPTHAUS team of 2019 is proposing the construction of an adaptable home that allows for added focus on people with disabilities. Currently, one of the greatest issues regarding housing is the barrier of entry. It is more feasible for young working professionals to rent rather than buy a home or apartment. Not until young working professionals decide to start a family does it make sense to purchase a home. However, as a family’s children phase into adulthood, much of the house becomes empty and ultimately obsolete. Aging in place arguably places a heavy burden on housing markets. Homes made for entire families are currently inhabited by two or fewer people, putting strain on the housing market and ultimately making it more difficult for young adults to access
housing at an affordable price.

At the same time, aging populations face difficulties when they “age in place;” often basic home maintenance becomes more difficult with age. The house proposed by this organization hopes to tackle multiple issues that are intertwined. Firstly, we hope to design a home that can shift in favor of populations that are liable to see lifestyle changes in coming years. The modular homes we have designed are capable of attaching and detaching to units, while also sporting shiftable interior walls. These capabilities allow the inhabitant to design their home based on their need, allowing for both upscaling and downscaling. Secondly, this house will be strictly in accordance with ADA regulation as well as have a variety of low maintenance components that are especially accommodating for aging populations.

A longtime eyesore, in a city with an aging population, there is some excitement surrounding the organization’s willingness to reimagine how people live at this stage of life. Various professors from the College of Engineering and Architecture have expressed support for both the idea and the program. This comes at the heels of their respective departments providing partial funding to the organization in past years. However, given recent budget cuts, the organization’s Executive Board have taken on the responsibility of appealing for more funds, while also forging new relationships with local partners, one of which is a private practice of an adjunct architecture professor at the university.

The ADAPTHAUS team at the University of Illinois not only has the capability and the fervor to compete at a formidable level in this competition, but it has reliable institutional backing. This critical backbone is what allows the organization to flourish as it has in past years. With a variety of funding avenues and a wealth of specialized knowledge guiding our endeavours, the program is likely to continue thriving in coming years.

Illinois Solar Decathlon 2019


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