Paxson visits Techstyle Haus construction site

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Fit for a Sun King President Paxson visits the construction site of Techstyle Haus, the Brown/RISD/Erfurt entry in the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe. The competition takes place in France this summer on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Credit: Photos by Frank Mullin/Brown University

A team of Brown and RISD students is working to complete construction of a modular solar home by late April. That’s when they dismantle it, ship it to France, then reassemble it on the grounds of the Versailles Palace this summer for competition with 19 other international teams in the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe. Brown President Christina Paxson visited the worksite Wednesday.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — On Wednesday, March 19, Brown President Christina Paxson stopped by the Providence warehouse where Techstyle Haus, the Brown/RISD/Ehrfurt entrant in the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe, is taking shape.

The Solar Decathlon Europe takes place this summer on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in France. Twenty collegiate teams from all over the world will compete in 10 events to see who can build the most innovative, efficient and livable solar house. Student team members Gareth Rose, Isabel Lubin, Helen Bergstrom and others showed Paxson the progress they’ve made since starting construction in mid-February.

How we’ll do it
The Solar Decathlon isn’t just a matter of designing and building a solar house. It requires funding, corporate support, materials supply, communications — and the whole thing needs to be dismantled, shipped to France, and reassembled.
The students are assembling the house’s mechanical core — kitchen, bathroom, and all plumbing and HVAC systems. Modular sections of the base on which the house will sit are nearly complete. Hardwood for the floor — salvaged from an old gymnasium in Providence — will be assembled soon in modular sections.

The project will move outside in a few weeks, where the house’s steel ribs will be assembled and its textile shell attached. Only a few metal shops in the country could make the curved steel for the ribs. One of those shops, located in Chicago, happens to employ a Brown graduate.

“I called him up and it took about five minutes to convince him to donate the tubes,” Rose told Paxson. “They should be en route now.”

Construction is scheduled to be completed in late April. After that, the students will dismantle the house, ship it all to France, and then reassemble the house at Versailles for the competition.

“I don’t want to take you from your work,” Paxson told the students after a 20-minute tour of the shop. “I just wanted to come out and see it. I’m very jealous. I love to build things. If I had time I’d be down here all the time.”

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.

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