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Net zero DALE micro-home expands to provide more living space


July 4, 2013

The DALE micro-home is the work of a collaboration between SCI-Arc and Caltech students

The DALE micro-home is the work of a collaboration between SCI-Arc and Caltech students

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Students from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), have joined forces to produce a net-zero micro-home concept for 2013's Solar Decathlon competition. Dubbed DALE, the futuristic dwelling is able to expand in size for those situations in which you don't want your micro-home to be quite so micro.

DALE (or the Dynamic Augmented Living Environment) comprises two modules which are joined together with an airtight seal. The modules are set on rails in order to enable them to separate, and thus create a courtyard space (with optional solar canopy). This increases the useable space from 600 sq ft to almost 1,800 sq ft (55–167 sq m). When required, the home can be contracted to its former size.

We've no additional information on how the rail system works at present, but have reached out to the company for clarification.

Module A contains two bedrooms, a living room, and a multipurpose space suitable for use as an office or entertainment area. Module B includes a kitchen, bathroom, and "mechanical room," which houses all the the green technology required to make the home net-zero. The interior is based around suspended sliding partitions, and so can be re-arranged to a degree, depending on the needs of its occupants.

Electricity is delivered via solar panels and an inverter, while an outdoor condenser can be used to extract heat from the outside air, or expel heat from the house. A solar hot water tank also provides hot water, and an energy monitoring system will be installed to allow occupants to keep a close eye on their energy usage.

Finer details are still a little thin on the ground at present, but the SCI-Arc and Caltech students expect to have a prototype ready for testing by late August, well in time for the annual US Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Decathlon to be held this October.

The video below shows a little more detail on the project.

Source: SCI-Arch Caltech via Inhabitat

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

The part I admire is the double envelope. I wish I could do this to my existing house. Protect the exterior walls with an external barrier that isolates the actual wall from the elements. However, I never thought of the horizontal shutters. Close the shutters in the summer to keep the house cool and open them in the winter to warm up the house. Brilliant!


Outstanding concept. Truly innovative and with technology improving this will just better.

Cocoa Jackson
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