DALE is a solar-powered shape-shifting micro house

Posted by Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling

Recently, I’ve become obsessed with tiny houses. I love how affordable, efficient, and portable they can be, not to mention how they force us to eliminate all but the most essential personal possessions.

Micro houses are perfect for two, or even three adults, but what happens when you want to entertain out of town friends or start a family?

DALE (Dynamic Augmented Living Environment) is a 2013 Solar Decathlon entry created by students from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Its net-zero, modular design allows this solar-powered home to more than double its size when it’s time to party.

DALE micro house

Image via SCI-ARC Caltech

An expandable house? I’m sure you’re wondering how this is possible. Apparently, DALE is comprised of two sections, Module A which includes two bedrooms, a living room, and a multipurpose space that could be used as an office or entertainment room. Module B includes a kitchen, bathroom, and “mechanical room,” which is where all the green technology is hidden. The modules are set on rails that allow them to telescope into each other or expand outward, depending on the current need for space. DALE has about 600 sq ft to when contracted but a whopping 1,800 sq ft when fully deployed.

“DALE not only moves on rails but each module is equipped with a canopy/sleeve that telescopes along the axis of module movement,” write the designers. “Each canopy has integrated photovoltaics on the top plane and operable louvers on the vertical faces. The result is controlled shade to offset thermal gain, passive ventilation and adjustable privacy.”

Well that explains the shape-shifting but what about the net-zero part?

“Electricity is delivered via solar panels and an inverter, while an outdoor condenser can be used to extract heat from the outside air, or expel heat from the house,”reports Gizmag. “A solar hot water tank also provides hot water, and an energy monitoring system will be installed to allow occupants to keep a close eye on their energy usage.”

Follow DALE’s journey to the Solar Decathlon here.

* Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling