A trellis on top of the house can support up to 40 PV panels, each with its own microinverter.

A trellis on top of the house can support up to 40 PV panels, each with its own microinverter.

Credit: Ian Allen

Team New York designed Roofpod, a fairly radical penthouse concept, for progressive young people in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets—not a project necessarily conducive to achieving affordability. “This has never been a competition for misers, but one for inventors of a better and more sustainable world in the future,” says Christian Volkmann, an associate professor at the college’s Spitzer School of Architecture and the team’s program manager.

As the name implies, Roofpod is designed to sit atop midsize buildings, and employs a Lego-like façade system that can be customized and combined depending on variables such as sun location or orientation relative to surrounding buildings. A trellis on top of the house can support up to 40 PV panels, each with its own microinverter. In theory, one or more Roofpods generating excess energy could help power the host building below.

In addition, the Roofpod has an innovative and hyper-efficient absorptive cooling system, which is powered using heat captured by six evacuated tube collectors and stored in a 200-gallon paraffin tank. “In an urban environment, where we have to deal with summer blackouts due to air conditioning, it is important to look into alternative cooling methods,” Volkmann says. “While the PV panels yield about 20-percent efficiency rate, the evacuated tube collectors get close to 80 percent.”

Volkmann says that Roofpod already qualifies for construction type 2 building permits, so the house can be built right away in New York City. The model will likely return to City College’s campus and find a permanent place on one of the school’s own roofs.

Estimated cost: $411,301.70