Virginia Tech’s FutureHaus will be on display in Alexandria, Va., for the summer, marking the final destination in a tour following its win in the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East. FutureHaus arrived in Alexandria following a two-week installation in New York’s Times Square for NYCxDesign, during which an estimated 100,000 people visited the innovative model house. For the design team, Alexandria’s National Landing neighborhood was the obvious next stop for the FutureHaus, because it is the future location of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and Amazon’s HQ2.
Constructed as a two person living space, FutureHaus is a sleek example of sustainable prefabricated building with elements such as a solar shade canopy that contributes to the house's net-zero energy efficient performance. FutureHaus’ smart abilities also cater to the combination of technology and design that buyers are coming to expect in their homes. “We cannot continue with stick-frame houses the way we’ve done because we have shortage of trade and skilled labor, and we’re starting to expect more and more technology in our homes," explains Joe Wheeler, AIA, a Virginia Tech professor and co-director of the university's Center for Design Research.
Wheeler says that he and his team of students and collaborators designed FutureHaus to be constructed from 18 prefabricated parts to explore "a concept for building where homes are built in factories, mass produced, [because] in a factory you get the quality control, you get the sustainable practices, you get the skilled labor localized, and economy of scale."But unlike other prefabricated homes, Wheeler emphasizes that with the customizable FutureHaus, “we’re shipping technology, we’re not shipping space.”
In addition to exposure for the project, Wheeler says that “the tour was a testament to the portability of this house.” This model, which Wheeler hopes to extend to affordable housing concepts, also caught the eye of an East Coast manufacturer while FutureHaus was displayed in Times Square. Although Wheeler and his team are still in discussions with the company and unable to reveal many details, they are ecstatic at the idea of “taking [FutureHaus] to the big scale,” he says.
FutureHaus will be open to the public in Alexandria until August 16.