Solar Decathlon is an international competition between universities, in which participants? task to design and build solely solar-powered houses. The winner is who collects the most of the points in the ten tests. The next Solar Decathlon Europe competition will be held in Madrid, in September 2012. The American University in Cairo (AUC) has become the first Middle Eastern or African team, which has succeeded to be among the participants of SDE competition


Our concept is called Sustainable Living Interactive Design; we fight for the victory with this against the 19 other teams. SLIDES is an exciting new project that aim is to create a well-functioning 21st century home according to the highest requirements of efficiency and environmental sustainability. The mashrabiya, the traditional shield of the Middle East has long been part of the architecture.  We will use mashrabiya progressively redefined for the regulation of our house?s shield and light supply. The building is wrapped by perforated shading panels ? like in case of a matchbox ? to help minimize the power consumption. It designed to be two-layered, so the residents can easily change the amount of light entering the house. The form and pattern of the shading recognizes the Voronoi-diagramm that divides the panels into various sizes of cells. Inspired by the ancient Egypt times, we use up in an abstract form the vision of the polygonal stones structures?.

The facades open like a matchbox allow the full utilization of solar energy and the perfect blackout of the house. When the two layers cover each other then can get the most light into the house. Thanks to the perforation of the two sliding plate different light and shadow effects, different light levels can be achieved.

Passive heating and cooling

The heating and the cooling of the house will be provided by passive solar energy. On summer days the shields are closed in order to minimize the incoming heat. The vents placed in the ceiling allow the warm air to exit. At night the windows are open, and the cool air chills the interior. On winter days the shields overlap to let in the most sunshine in order to gain maximum heat. On winter nights, the heat accumulated during the day in the floor structure is used for the heating of the fully sealed inner space.

Ancient and modern materials in new role

The structural design team has experimented with special materials, various polymer fibers are tested for the building structures. The planned composite material would be from recycled plastic and wood waste. The plastic from the used plastic bottles would serve as a fiber-reinforcement; the wood waste would be acquired from the local carpenters. The material is jointly analyzed by the university and the Solar Decathlon team to determine its main features and the appropriateness as a building material. The other tested material is the ancient Egypt papyrus. The team examines the papyrus? usage as a shield material. Once upon a time, this material was used up very versatile, for the production of roofs, ceilings, fences and ropes.


The American university in Cairo team
Gross area: 85 m2
Prime contractor design firm?s website URL:
Builders: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical design and marketing team
Cost: 1 million dollar

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