the Architecture

Mindful of the affordable housing crisis, the design of the Delta T-90 House is guided by the creed of Charles and Ray Eames, to build ‘the best, for the most, for the least.’ This is further supported by the inspiration drawn from Henry David Thoreau that the mark of civilization is evidenced in our ability to build better dwellings without increasing cost,  in which cost refers to the broader impacts on our lives.

Floor Plan. Living room, dining/kitchen area, two bedrooms, bath and laundry room. Seven windows, two doors.The Norwich University Delta T-90 team recognizes a housing crisis in New England. In 2010, approximately 47% of renters, and 38% of Vermont homeowners paid more than one-third of their income for housing. Close to a third of Vermont’s existing housing stock was built prior to 1950 with inadequate insulation, inefficient heating systems, and sub-standard window and door assemblies. Leaky construction combined with severe winter cold and high fuel costs force many Vermonters to pay annual energy costs that approach or equal their existing mortgage costs.

Approximately eighty-two percent of households in Vermont earning under $41,000 annually direct more than one-third of their income toward mortgage and housing costs. Couple this statistic with the fact that Vermont ranks sixth highest in the United States in terms of annual heating demand, it becomes clear that homeownership is challenging for lower-income households. In addition to the lengthy, sometimes severe heating season, approximately eighty-five percent of Vermont’s forty-eight billion BTU’s for residential heat demand comes from petroleum-based products. Globally influenced price fluctuation of these products is a financial planning wildcard for households operating on thin margins.

Paramount to the Delta T-90 design is the notion of understated elegance and universally valued architectural maneuvers; a solid daylighting approach that gives the occupant a variety of experiences throughout the day, with room for privacy, room for gathering, and room for working.  So much effort has gone into reducing the mechanical ‘tackle’ inside the home that the need for a dedicated mechanical room has been eliminated. This streamlining mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems has architectural payoff.

The Delta T-90 team isn’t trying to establish a new boundary to push against. Rather, we’re breaking down an existing boundary that should have been broken through a generation ago.  Our team believes that high performance, solar powered dwellings should be accessible to all and that good design isn’t a function of cost. We are confronting the issues related to high performance and affordability for New England by designing around performance criteria, building science, and time honored architectural maneuvers. Our team is committed to providing a hammer-ready, widely accessible solution for New England’s unique challenges.

Norwich University’s Delta T-90 House for Solar Decathlon 2013 is a 991 square foot, two-bedroom home that is tuned for the unique seasons of the northeastern bioregion. The Delta T-90 House explores the interdependency between the economy and the built environment by revealing the hidden values and richness within a conservation-based lifestyle. This high-performance home models the future of affordable, energy efficient living in Vermont.