Solar Decathlon house taking shape at Chalmers

From a digital 3D model to a finished  house in two months.

The walls have gone up and Chalmers’ contribution to the Solar Decathlon student competition in China has started to take shape in a tent at Campus Johanneberg.
”We have until May 1 to build before Halo has to be packed into containers, so until then there’s going to be a lot going on at once,” says project coordinator Josua Smedberg.
Solar Decathlon is a student competition that launched in the United States in 2002. Universities from all over the world compete to design and build solar-powered houses which are then transported to a common exhibition site in the Chinese city of Datun where they will be viewed both by the public and the critical eyes of the jury.
Since 2010, the competetion has also been held in Madrid and in 2013, Chalmers is the team to represent Sweden when the competition is being held in China for the first time.

josua_smedberg”A taste of what it feels like to walk around inside Halo”
The Swedish entry to the competition is a round structure that goes by the name of Halo. Last week, the walls of the house were raised in a tent at Chalmers.
”It’s super cool. What an amazing feeling to get to see the building take shape on a full scale after a year at the drawing board. Now we can finally get a taste of what it feels like to walk around inside Halo,” says Josua Smedberg.
The mood is soaring high, and the team is buckling down – there is much to be done, and there’s no time to waste on the tight schedule.
”There’s still a ton of work to do, and so much depends on being able to get everything we need over here in time. Still, it’s really fun to hang out and build, so spending extra time on the project isn’t really a chore,” says Josua Smedberg.
What happens next – and after that?
”The floor and ceiling structures are starting to come together, and we have bathroom, kitchen and closet/bedroom modules on the way. Soon we’re going to start building the ceiling structures, which will also feature solar panels. We’re also going to start shifting over to the finishing stage, which is going to be a challenge – it’s important that we have time to do a good job.  Aside from the ceiling and the finish, we have the whole wooden deck, and foundation plates for our ceiling rods are being built. Starting on May 1, the house will be packed up into containers to arrive on site at the harbour on May 8, and be sent off to China around May 15,” says Josua Smedberg.

Participating for the first time
Shea Hagy is project manager for Team Sweden’s practical construction project:
”This is the first time Chalmers is participating in a Solar Decathlon and there’s a lot of new things for both students and teachers to think over. It’s super cool that we students get to be a part of this and actually build our project, but at same time there is much to learn along the way and we have to be efficient in order to get it all done,” he says.

Good advice from the Formula Student team
Team Sweden has obtained assistance and advice from Chalmers’ successful team that takes part in Formula Student, one of the world’s biggest student competitions, where not houses but racing cars are constructed.
Chalmers’ Formula Student has over ten years of experience with carrying out this kind of practical project and has already gone through many of the challenges Team Sweden is now facing. One of the major differences between the competitions is the freight factor, since it’s much easier to ship a car than a house. Once built, Halo, which measures approximately 60 square meters, will consist of a total of 26 floor, wall and ceiling modules and two central core modules with a kitchen, bathroom and equipment area.

Exhibition and judging in China

Once on site in Datong, the house must be put together in fifteen days and then opened for the public and the jury.
”The period from mid-July to mid-August is going to be an intense month. After the first two weeks of assembly, Halo will be open for viewing and judging for an additional two weeks before being dismantled. The Chinese competition organisation expects around 15,000 visitors per day at the exhibition, so there are bound to be lots of guided tours to go on,” says Shea Hagy.

Text: Michael Nystås och Halo Sweden
Photographs: Josua Smedberg, Agnes Hammar, Galini Afentoulidou and Halo Sweden

Josua Smedberg, project coordinator, Team Sweden, +4673-929 8191,
Malin Kjellberg, project manager, +4631-772 1376,

Read more and follow the development at the Halo web site and blog >>>

Watch fresh time lapse film from the construction site >>>

Halo Sweden in social media >>>