In addition to the objectives set by the competition we choose to add affordability as the main starting point for the design of our house. To achieve an attractive and affordable zero energy home, we kept the following principles in mind.
1 Human energy
We propose a strategy that encourages people to build the house with their own energy. The affordable do-it-yourself kit for the zero energy house is designed as a preassembled kit that can easily be put together on site without special skills or tools. The main aim is to get people to build their own house so they get less dependent on financial institutions.
2 Passive House Standard
We have adapted the E-Cube to the Passive House Standard, which implies that the performance of the building envelope ensures that we can heat the house without a conventional heating system. The additional cost required to achieve such benefits will be recovered through the reduced energy demand (which allows us to install a smaller amount of PV panels). In addition, the use of passive solar gain strategies and phase-change materials will maximize the use of direct solar gains.
The house can be realized in stages, depending on the customers requirements. Starting with a 'base unit', the house can be upgraded in several steps, ranging from the installation of solar panels, a custom interior finish, to complete building extensions. This strategy ensures that customers with a minimum initial capital can begin to build their own house. The E-Cube is therefore more affordable because the costs can be spread over time, so the customer can finish the house according to his own wishes and budget.
4 Plug & Play
The E-Cube uses a flexible technical box which contains all the techniques used in modern housing. This forms the core of the home and will be used as a reference for the furtherbuilding of the structure. Additional systems are simply clicked into the box, so there is virtually no technical background required by the client.
5 Structural flexibility
We have chosen to use an industrial pallet racking system for the basic structure, because of the very low cost and wide availability of these standardized products. The connections are also standardized so there are no special tools or knowledge required. Also, the fact that the performance is already regulated and tested according to building codes, made us choose this particular structure. Furthermore is it produced in various sizes, which allows an increasing flexibility in the choice of form and decoration of the house.