With its Y Container home, Team China took a radical approach to affordability: It designed a house around six recycled shipping containers. "The price of six recycled containers is only $6,000, so the main structure and the water-proofing system are really cheap," says Hua Guodong, the team’s lead student architect. Each arm of the house is composed of two side-by-side containers, joined together in the middle. "The Y shape gives the interior a more spacious feeling," Hua says. A substantial 8.8-kilowatt photovoltaic system includes a single inverter and 42 panels, installed on two of the structure’s three roof areas. As part of the design, the team’s engineers integrated the house’s HVAC and hot-water system. "Designers need to learn more about how mature energy technology works in the finished project and embed it into their houses at the start of the design process," Hua says. Heat generated by the Y Container’s HVAC system can be used to help heat water. And when domestic hot-water demand is met, a solar thermal collector on the roof stores heat in order to warm a series of small water tubes under the floor for thermal radiation.
Estimated cost: $345,610.36