BLACKSBURG — The house of the future was built in a day on Virginia Tech’s Drillfield. Later this year it will be reassembled again in Times Square.
FutureHAUS is the Virginia Tech project that combines modular construction and cutting-edge technology. The project won an international competition in December against teams from around the world in the Solar Decathlon Middle East in Dubai.
The event required the FutureHAUS team to simulate a real family living in the home over 10 days. They did laundry, cleaned dishes, charged an electric vehicle and kept the home at a cool 73 degrees while solar panels on the roof generated power to keep everything humming along.
Now the 900-square-foot home will be on display — and open to the public — on campus for the month of April before embarking on a tour, according to Joe Wheeler, a Tech architecture professor who leads the effort.
The house will be in New York City’s Times Square from May 10-22. The team will have a short window to assemble it there, having to work only after midnight until the wee hours of the morning so construction and assembly doesn’t interrupt activities around the landmark.
After that, the project will be set up at Tech’s Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia to be on display for most of the summer. It’ll then return to Blacksburg again to get fully updated before heading back to Dubai for a World Expo 2020 opening in October of next year and closing in April 2021.
On each of those trips, Tech’s team will work with lightning speed to assemble the building with a cartridge design. The construction technique brings modules together like Legos to create a full home that is the work of the massive team of students who helped put the whole project together.
“It’s a testament to the concept,” Wheeler said.
Once the building is assembled, movable walls allow for spaces to transform inside the home.
This is the second prototype of the FutureHAUS. The first was consumed in a 2017 fire that destroyed a Tech research building.
A team of more than 75 Tech students then worked together to build and improve upon the FutureHAUS. They came up with stellar ideas, Wheeler said.
“This is the housing of the future,” Wheeler said. “It should be by them for them.”
For the students involved, putting the home on display in Blacksburg is a big deal, said Matthew Erwin, a recent Tech graduate in computer engineering and lead engineer on the project.
Skylar Southard, a graduate student in industrial design, said that setting up the home takes him back to Dubai and the elation he felt from winning the competition. Southard said he’s excited to show off the house’s lighting display, which he helped design.
Erwin said over the two and a half years he’s put into the project he’s had to miss countless social gatherings and events with his friends.
“Now they get to see what I’ve spent all this time on,” he said.
For everyone involved, the FutureHAUS’s tour will be a great opportunity to expose more people to cartridge design and cutting-edge living, the team members said.
“I hope this idea gets picked up more and more,” Erwin said.