The Orbiting Eco House can be rotated for maximum solar exposure


The Orbiting Eco House is the brainchild of architect and designer Michael Jantzen and aims to interact with the natural elements for maximum energy harvesting and solar exposure. The self-powered eco house explores ways in which the movement of certain segments of a house relative to one another and the surrounding landscape can improve its eco and aesthetic functionality. The house consists of two separate structures. The lower structure contains space for general living, bathroom, food preparation, and dinning. The upper level structure contains space for sleeping, studio/office, and bathing. Each of these two structures can be rotated in any direction relative to one another around a center stationary utility core, which also contains a staircase.

On top of the center utility core structure is a large funnel shaped rainwater collection ring that catches and directs the water down into a series of holding tanks for use in and around the house. At the center of the rainwater collection ring, there is a large vertical axis wind turbine. Around the wind turbine there is a series of photovoltaic solar cells and a solar domestic water heating panel. The wind turbine and the solar cells are used to generate electricity which is stored in batteries and used to power the house.

Since the two separate structures are movable around the center utility core, each can be continually reoriented for the optimal position relative to the sun and wind. As an example, each segment of the house can face the sun at the appropriate time of day or year, and/or face away from the sun. Each segment can be turned to catch the prevailing winds and/or turned away, and of course each segment can easily be turned toward the most desirable view.

Each segment of the house has a large skylight built into the center of the roof. These skylights have insulated panels built in underneath that can be closed or opened to control heat loss and/or heat gain. They can also be used to exhaust hot air through perimeter vents, which draw in cooler air from under the elevated floors. All of the windows in the house and the large series of sliding glass doors, have built-in insulated panels that can be closed or opened over them from the inside in order to control heat loss and/or heat gain. Light weight phase change materials can be installed in the floors of each segment in order to store passive solar heat in the winter.

In addition, earth pipes can be installed at the site to aid in the heating and cooling of the house through the center utility core. Waterless toilets are to be used, and all plumbing and electrical hook-ups are controlled through specially designed rotatable connections. The primary construction technique would investigate the use of structural insulated foam panels, with an appropriate monolithic coating of a light weight concrete composite.

Cheers! Michael Jantzen

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