Jonathan R. Knowles with Helen Bergstrom and Kim Dupont-Madinier

Techstyle Haus

Techstyle Haus was the first-ever Solar Decathlon entry to incorporate a complete textile enclosure. We based our project on high performance architectural membranes, which had never before been used in a residential building. This impelled us to explore new building methods, architectural concepts, passive strategies, and a new economic model for housing. Techstyle Haus was built using Passivhaus strategies, widely accepted as the highest international standard for energy efficiency. Our joint research into the application of advanced textiles pointed a way toward houses that are affordable, with lightweight enclosures that could be easily shipped and assembled, with the safety and comfort of a conventional home, and with expanded architectural potential. We also incorporated a flexible PV array into the exterior skin.

Jonathan R. Knowles with Helen Bergstrom and Kim Dupont-Madinier

Associate Professor, RISD

Jonathan R. Knowles, Associate Professor of Architecture, brings his knowledge of building technology and experiments in unconventional construction systems to the project. Professionally, Jonathan has over 25 years of experience designing and managing large-scale architectural projects. His work with BriggsKnowles A+D is dedicated to the design and construction of net-zero architecture. At RISD, his architecture design studios and technology seminars are devoted exclusively to the subjects of performative architecture, defined as buildings that produce energy exclusively through the form of the building and/ or the technical makeup of the enclosure. In 2008, Jonathan initiated the first of a series of pilot projects with the Department of Engineering at Brown University. His first initiative was research into new forms of thermal electric systems by developing a small-scale Stirling Engine. His second initiative was the Techstyle Haus.

Helen Bergstrom is a senior at Brown University, where she is studying chemical and biochemical engineering. Helen was the project engineer for the Techstyle Haus project, and was responsible for creating the WUFI-Passive and WUFI plus models of the project as well as for designing the HVAC systems of the house. Helen was also responsible for the comfort analysis of the architectural design. The project won 3rd place in the European Solar Decathlon for comfort conditions. Helen’s current research focuses on catalytic bio-fuel upgrading.

Kim Dupont-Madinier is a 2015 Bachelor of Architecture candidate at the Rhode Island School of Design. She was the student team leader of the Techstyle Haus Solar Decathlon project installed in Versailles, France during the summer of 2014. Kim was an integral member of the team and was intimately involved with the design, management and construction of the Techstyle Haus prototype. The Solar Decathlon enabled Kim to understand very real environmental conditions, from the economic systems at play to the social pressures of low-cost housing. Beginning with the organization and application for the competition, to the final construction and presentation of Techstyle Haus in Versailles and at the Domaine de Boisbuchet, Kim took part in the development of almost every facet of the project.

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