Winner RIBA Silver Medal 2012
“SunBloc is a student-led proposal to capture the projective capacity of architectural design and construction. At a time when architecture is at an apparent crossroads and discourse is concerned with representation and narrative, ours is a proposal for an alternative material practice. Multidisciplinary collaboration and large-scale fabrication leads to a depersonalisation of the student portfolio in the search for innovation.
SunBloc is a highly insulated, lightweight, prototypical house. It relies on a composite construction system, comprised of EPS foam blocks in compression and steel cables in tension. The system lends itself to sites where access and transport is limited, such as rooftops. Currently SunBloc is tailored for the Solar Decathlon Competition but can be adapted to multiple scenarios.
SunBloc is relatively inexpensive in terms of material and a single unit can be can assembled by a small crew of unskilled workers. The foam blocks can be handled by two people and placed in a standard lift. They are formed using a handheld hotwire cutter and laser cut templates, these templates are reused as gaskets between blocks to ensure air tightness. After positioning, the whole is post-tensioned. This system was developed and form-found in conjunction with internationally renowned structural engineers AKT.
SunBloc is designed to be a net energy producer. As the material is relatively lightweight (<100 kg/m2), thermal mass is provided by an internal finish of clay render with embedded PCM bi-wax granules. The environmental strategy (developed with BDSP) necessitates the integration of a large Southern porch for Solar gain. Adequate daylighting is provided primarily by modest corner windows supplemented by strategically placed high-level openings.
The principle material is currently EPS. The long-term intention being to replace this with BioFoam produced from plant waste. The exterior treatment is an acrylic-based render and the roof is covered by a large PV array. Where appropriate the façade becomes a living wall, encouraging biodiversity in the inner city.”
Client – Solar Decathlon 2012
Budget – Euro 100 K