VIRTUe, a student team representing the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands has devised a housing plan to change urban living. The self-sufficient residential model deemed Ripple intends to have a ripple effect by way of its innovative design that urges residents to adopt a sustainable-living mindset. VIRTUe has cultivated Ripple for the Solar Decathlon Europe 2021/22 (SDE21) in Wuppertal, Germany, where they will compete against 17 teams in summer 2022.

The theme for SDE21 is “solutions for the cities of tomorrow.” Projects can participate in one of a trio of categories: those that renovate pre-existing structures in Wuppertal, those that provide infill between gaps in the urban fabric or those that attach to a standing building and sustainably enhance urban density. Ripple qualifies for this final category.

The Ripple house is built with repurposed wood. Atop the roof, coloured solar panels that adhere to the tone of the wood are utilised to harness solar energy. Relying on the site, the solar panels can be transported or oriented to best capture the sun. By capturing photovoltaic energy from the outside walls, the rooftop is liberated for urban farming and can be utilised to develop a microclimate to nurture the region’s biodiversity.

Each unit comprises of modules revolving about a stationary technical core. A pair of apartments are bridged by a communal space that unites the living room and kitchen. An interface is featured to control the home’s integrated systems. Based on the program of the interiors and the needs of occupants, modules for the kitchenette and bathroom can be shifted as needed, while larger furniture pieces feature in-built storage compartments to optimise the small space.

To streamline maintenance need, the home posseses self-sufficiency systems, such as the solar-powered hot water system, heat pump, ventilation and the smart home system EQUI. EQUI ensures energy is distributed as efficiently as possible throughout the day. The system makes use of weather forecast information to calculate about how much energy will be stored daily. And residents can make use of the system to power amenities when solar energy escalates to maximise passive energy.

Along with systems in the residence, VIRTUe has instigated an app deemed Recapp that connects with in-home systems and metropolitan services. The app empowers Ripple housing residents to attain sustainability objectives. This technique unites people with their urban environment and encourages them to make ecoconscious changes that make difference and an impact.

Ripple represents a trio of tenets for multifaceted excellence: attractive, adaptive and active. The design blends lovely design details with modern technology, while still meeting the needs of the site and occupants. And the integrated technology systems highlight the shift in the builders’ and inhabitants’ psyches, thus encouraging them to build better—and more sustainable.


Image credits by VIRTUe