Wollongong will again be brought to the world stage with a dementia friendly solar powered home making it into finals of the world energy Olympics.
A team of around 200 students from the University of Wollongong and TAFE NSW Illawarra are in the process of designing and building the house of the future with a special focus on meeting the needs of an aging population.
The ‘Desert Rose’ house is an affordable, architecturally beautiful, net-zero house which will be taken to Dubai for the Solar Decathlon Middle East competition next year.
A selection of the team will be presenting their plans to the Property Council NSW in April to gain interest from property developers and aged care providers, as well as feedback.
UOW engineering Professor Tim McCarthy is the academic leader of the team and said most of the students came together in 2016 with considerable interest shown after UOW and TAFE Illawarra won the 2013 global competition in China with the Flame House (now a permanent fixture at the Innovation Campus).
“Typically things we’ll be putting in the [Desert Rose] house will be technology that hasn’t yet gone to market but will be there in the next four or five years time.”
Illawarra Flame technologies included solar power and thermal energy harvesting systems, a thermal mass wall that helps regulate temperature and is made from crushed recycled terracotta roof tiles, and an advanced domestic building management system that also monitors energy production and consumption.
Professor McCarthy said “air tightness” was something that needed to improve so a home could be comfortable with almost zero heating and cooling.
He said they’re also spending a lot more effort on energy demand and the use of more energy efficient appliances, to help reduce the affect on climate change.
Currently the team, which covers each academic faculty at UOW and various trades, is fine tuning the technical specifications and the engineering.
Professor McCarthy said the house also needs to address important social needs of occupants in the Middle East as well as Australia, which meant architecture also had to suit.
"It’s very important for [dementia sufferers] to be able to see their surroundings so not to get lost and confused. One of the architectural features we have in lots of houses is a corridor,” he said.
“You won’t see them in a dementia friendly aged care facility, they’re much more open plan so the person can actually see the kitchen … or the bathroom and won’t get lost.
"A lot of existing houses have features that make people with restricted mobility less able to use them like steps, sunken lounges, accessibility of windows for opening.”
Each team in the Solar Decathlon are scored on architecture, engineering and construction, energy management, energy efficiency, comfort conditions, house functioning, sustainable transportation, sustainability, communication and innovation.
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