Page E1.1 . 14 May 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Bio-Solar House in Thailand

by Jan Krikke

It's an environmental dream: a self-reliant house that produces its own electricity, water, and cooking gas. Solar energy powers the air-conditioning, lights, and household appliances. Rain, dew, and condensation from the cooling system produce enough water for a family of four. Recycled water irrigates the garden, and surplus electricity is sold to the power company or used to drive an electric car 30 miles (50 kilometers) a day.

In Thailand, this dream has become a reality. A research team from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok has built the country's first "bio-solar" house. Yet at first sight, the house hardly stands out among the other homes in a gated residential community.

The house has a heavy, slanting roof with overhanging eaves, sand-colored walls, a tastefully landscaped garden, and an attached carport. But that's where the similarities to its neighbors end. The bio-solar house is a high-tech, ecology-friendly version of what Le Corbusier called "a machine for living."

Buried in the garden are a photovoltaic system, biogas unit, air conditioner, condensation collection unit, water recycling equipment, filtering units, and storage tanks. Nothing in this home-cum-ecosystem goes to waste. Garden clippings (grass and leaves) and wet kitchen waste fertilize the small, organic vegetable garden.   >>>

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Side view of the bio-solar house designed and occupied by Soontorn Boonyatikarm, professor of architecture at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Photo: Soontorn Boonyatikarm

ArchWeek Image

Plan view of bio-solar house. The open plan of the ground floor gives the compact house s spacious feeling. The "green room" cantilevers over the swimming pool.
Image: Chulalongkorn University


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