Lumenhaus Solar Pre-fab Housing Unit from Virginia Tech
Lumenhaus is an portable housing concept designed and built at Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design as part of its ongoing architectural research program. Inspired by the Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe, the north and south walls are all glass, maximizing the owner’s exposure to bright, natural daylight. The fully automated Eclipsis System, comprising independent sliding layers, permits a revolutionary design in a solar-powered house, while filtering light in beautiful, flowing patterns throughout the day.
Hacking a Robot to make Louvered Facades
Update: Our friends at Virginia Tech reached out to Zahner to share some of the similar innovations for automated manufacture of shading systems. In 2010, Zahner worked with Virginia Tech on the Lumenhaus project whose laser-cut tabs were pushed by hand. In 2012, Nathan King and Jonathan Grinham published Automating Eclipsis, a research paper outlining a method for automation, as well as a proof of concept video of their method using a robot to automate the tabbed panel system.In the Summer of 2015, Zahner’s ShopFloor team was tasked with developing several methods for louvered perforations to create picotage-effects for architectural metal.The process was initiated by Shokofeh Darbari, a Zahner Engineering intern currently in the Graduate Architecture program at Pennsylvania State University. Together with Zahner Design Engineer Andrew Manto, and Zahner Engineering intern Perry May from the University of Kansas, the team worked out a method to set perforated tabs on louvered screen wall facades.
Creating the Lumenhaus Facade
Zahner worked with Virignia Tech to develop the facade system, providing the engineering and fabrication for the project as part of the patented ZIRA™ System for perforating facades with custom patterns and imagery. Instead of adjusting the size of the perforation to create the metal image pattern, Lumenhaus was designed to create unique imagery through changing the angle of the protruding tab. By louvering the perforation, the visual contrast is increased between the negative dark areas and the light-capturing tabbed areas.
This is the third solar house designed and built at Virginia Tech, but it is the first to win international recognition and press. In 2010, the project won the International Solar Decathlon Competition in Madrid, Spain. In January, 2012, it was announced that the Lumenhaus has won a 2012 AIA Honor Award for Architecture. This is the first time this award has been given to a university team.
Rooted in the design principles of the Bauhaus, the project imbues 21st century technologies to create a dynamic living situation. The entire mechanics of the house are controllable via mobile phone, so the hand-held phone becomes a remote control for the many features of the house. This Eclipsis System includes a automatic sliding screen-wall engineered and manufactured by Zahner.
Where most energy-conscious houses are closed with strategic openings to resist heat transfer, Lumenhaus has open, flowing spaces linking occupants to each other within the house and to nature outside.
The design served as both aesthetic and function, a compelling surface that filters the harsh rays of the setting sun while letting in ambient light throughout the day.