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Cubes Magazine
Cubes Magazine

Illawarra Flame House Takes the Gold

The retrofitted fibro cottage gets top honours at the recent Solar Decathlon in China.

BY ryan

5 September, 2013

Not only have the 51-strong team from University of Wollongong, Australia beaten 20 other finalists from around the world to place first in the engineering, solar and architecture categories, they also hold the highest score ever awarded in any Solar Decathlon. A team from South China University of Technology came in second while one from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology came in third.

Solar Decathlon

The prestigious global competition, also known as the ‘Energy Olympics’, is the largest sustainable building research and innovation competition in the world, which sees teams designing, building and operating net-zero energy, solar-powered houses.

Solar Decathlon

This is the first time that an Australian team has been selected to compete in a Solar Decathlon, which has been held in Datong, China since 2002.

Solar Decathlon

With the Illawarra Flame House project, the students have taken a humble 1950s suburban fibro home – known to be notoriously high in thermal losses – and made it energy neutral.

Solar Decathlon

Solar Decathlon

The retrofitted house has been made more air-tight, and features enlarged windows and verandas, vertical gardens, a photovoltaic thermal air system and a rainwater harvester.

Solar Decathlon

Solar Decathlon

The team has also considered comfort and style in designing the Illawarra Flame House, using sustainable materials such as Instyle’s collection of fabrics on recycled furniture.

Solar Decathlon

Click here to view videos of the project, and visit for more information.

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