The home of the future is en route to a temporary residence in the desert — and the Virginia Tech students and faculty who built it are following.
FutureHAUS Dubai, an innovative, interdisciplinary, and ambitious project to design and build a futuristic, modular smart home, is the lone American team competing against 14 other university teams at the Solar Decathlon Middle East, which will be held Nov. 14-28.
The international competition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was launched by the United States Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority to accelerate research on building sustainable, grid-connected, solar homes that perform optimally in Dubai’s harsh desert climate — all in line with the city’s bid to have the world’s smallest carbon footprint by 2050.
In mid-September, the home was shipped on a 30-day, 7,286-mile journey by boat across the Atlantic Ocean. Starting as early as mid-October, faculty and students who built the house — some of whom have graduated and are taking time off from their new jobs to attend — have been traveling in waves to Dubai in advance of the competition.
“It feels surreal to finally be traveling to Dubai after dreaming about this day for two years,” said Laurie Booth, a fourth-year architecture student from Charlotte, North Carolina, and student team lead of FutureHAUS Dubai. “We’ve got an extraordinary team and an extraordinary house. We’re counting down the minutes until the first day of competition.”
For two weeks prior to the competition start, the team will have to reassemble the entire house at the competition site — a feat they’ve already done once in Blacksburg. But the work doesn’t stop once the house is assembled. When the competition begins, the team will undergo two weeks of intense judging on 10 different contests, ranging from the innovation and efficiency of its architectural and engineering designs to how well it generates the energy required to execute everyday tasks, such as cooling, charging an electric car, doing laundry, maintaining a consistent refrigerator temperature, and cooking meals.