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MiSo House

Solar house opens to the community at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens

The Michigan Solar House (MiSo*) is an innovative 660-square foot, solar-powered home collaboratively designed and built by an interdisciplinary team of architecture students and faculty from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan for the 2005 Solar Decathlon in Washington DC, involving teams at various stages in its development, that totaled some150 people. The team collaborated with people from the LS&A, School of Art & Design, School of Natural Resources and Environment, Ross School of Business, the College of Engineering, as well as local professionals and community volunteers.

The goal of the building concept was to create a prototype capable of being mass-produced and customized that would also employ passive energy methods with the aim of net zero-energy consumption, fed by solar power and heating. Conceptually similar to an automobile, MiSo* was envisioned as a residential module that would be universal, autonomous, and easily transported around the globe.

Relevant to the rising world energy crisis, the MiSo* house concept represents a new potential for modular and energy efficient housing , offering a broad range of size and amenity options to form not just a single building but a palette of choices that can be modified, expanded, and exchanged over time. Embodied in all of the options offered by MiSo* is an innovative approach to design and fabrication that reinterprets the single-family dwelling based on principles of sustainability, the integration of renewable energy sources, mass customization, and craftsmanship.

The MiSo* house is located in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens to foster public awareness in energy efficient solar technology in housing and serves as an ongoing full-scale laboratory operated by building technology faculty in the architecture program to monitor solar performance of the house throughout the seasons and conduct research in passive energy strategies. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the University of Michigan, the project continues to provide a platform for advancing research in solar technology, energy efficiency, and pre-manufactured housing. The long-term goal for MiSo* is to leverage these technologies into prototype designs for manufactured housing including high-density, low-energy affordable housing.

MiSo* in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens will be open for tours to the public starting on May 29, 2009. For summer hours of operation or to book a tour, call the gardens at 734-647-7600.

For more information about the project and ongoing research, please contact Harry Giles at hgiles@umich.edu.

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