Monday, January 28, 2013

...The Greatest Piece Of Residential Architecture... Virginia Tech's LUMENHAUS

Note: I am still in the process of working on this article and it still has a long way to go. When I am done writing this article, I will remove this notice.


Anybody who knows me, knows I am a design fanatic of the highest order, and for the past 30 years–since I was 16 years old–I have dedicated much of my life energy toward learning about, understanding and creating great design. Thus, it should come as no surprise, architectural design, and interior design are two things I am really passionate about.

I am excited to share the story of the LumenHaus with you because I believe it represents one of the greatest pieces of residential architecture the world has ever seen. Not only am I madly in love with this house, but in my lifetime, I hope to build a house very similar to the LumenHaus.

One of my main goals with this article is to share all my research on the design of the LumenHaus with you, so you will understand why I am so passionate about its super innovative design. 

Many disparate articles have been written on the LumenHaus, and videos have been added to YouTube, but I feel like there is no cohesive place you can go to learn about the magic of the LumenHaus in a holistic way. My objective with this article, is to offer a complete, comprehensive, detailed, thorough overview of the LumenHaus.

I also some ideas on how to improve the design of the LumenHaus, which I also plan to share.

...The Greatest Piece Of New Residential Architecture...

Virginia Tech's
Responsive Architecture Defined

My single favorite piece of residential architecture is named LUMENHAUS, and it was conceived and built by Virginia Tech's School of Architecture. It's inspiration was the "glass pavillion-style Fransworth House designed by Bauhaus architect, Mies Van Der Rohe."

I could create and maintain a blog, just on the amazing design of the LUMENHAUS, so on Jake's Architecture World, I plan to write a series of detailed stories on this magnificent piece of residential architecture.

LUMENHAUS is the 3rd solar-house designed and built by Virginia Tech, as part of a research and development program which began in 2002. The LUMENHAUS is a perfect blend of innovative architecture design and technology.


The LumenHaus was designed to compete in the Solar Decathlon, which means it must meet or exceed several criteria. In particular, it must be 800 or less square feet (of living space) and it must be "off-the-grid", meaning it must generate enough electricity to provide its occupants with enough energy to not have to use electricity or natural gas from a local provider. 

The LumenHaus, as it turns out, is so fuel efficient, it not only meets the goal of being off-the-grid, but significantly exceeds it be being able to generate enough electricity to power several other homes! The Virginia Tech LumenHaus won the 2010 European Solar Decathlon, which was held in Madrid, Spain.

Virginia Tech came up with the name LumenHaus, which is a combination of "Lumen", which means "the power of light", coupled with the word "Haus", which is inspired by the German "BauHaus" architectural movement from the early 20th century.

The LumenHaus design team was inspired by the famous, modernist, minimalist-masterpiece, Farnsworth House, which was designed in 1945 and completed in 1951 in Plano, Illinois by the world-renowned BauHaus designer, Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). In the photo below, we see the Farnsworth House on the left next to the LumenHaus, on the right.

Both homes have a north and south walls constructed out of glass, which optimizes the exposure to natural daylight. Both the Farnsworth and LumenHaus have a center section that contains the bathroom and shower.

In my opinion, as a designer, there is really something to be said for smaller spaces that are intimate and well designed, and that is where the LumenHaus really shines. It in like a miniature mansion, meaning is is really small, but seems very large in every way.


The image below gives a roofless overview of the LumenHaus. The kitchen is located on the left, with the bathroom cube in the middle, and the bathroom on the right side.

Back Yard (Rear View)

The 2 images below gives a view of the back yard view of the LumenHaus with the privacy screens slid open all the way.

Front Yard (Front Door View)

The images below shows the font door, and the with the privacy screens slid out of the way.

This first video, produced by Virginia Tech's LumenHaus team, offers a fairly comprehensive and inspirational overview. That being said, I think they, or somebody, should produce a super-detailed, full-length documentary of the LumenHaus.


The Kitchen area of the LumenHaus is amazing as you can see in this video. It is filled with space saving innovations, all developed by the LumenHaus team. Notice the kitchen window even has the ability to dim itself, based upon how bright the sun is shining on it!

The modular kitchen table system in the Lumenhaus is fascinatingly useful. In the first photo below we see the kitchen looking like a normal kitchen with a dining room table.

The kitchen counter is modular, and since it is on wheels, it can move out to extend the kitchen counter-space, thus, effectively doubling the counter-space.

It is interesting to note when the countertop extension is in place covering the granite countertop, it has a circular sink cutout (as seen below) that allows you to use the sink. This is some seriously innovative design work!!!

In the next image, we see the dining room table has been moved out onto the rear deck, and the modular secondary, counter-space has been utilized to extend the kitchen-space.

The photo below shows the kitchen from the living room perspective, which is interesting.

Kitchen Detail

The Kitchen cabinetry in the Lumenhaus is designed to completely optimize the kitchen space. In the photo below, we see how well the microwave-oven is camouflaged .

In the next image, we see the granite kitchen countertop with the modular wood countertop removed. The black granite with the blonde wood looks great!!!

Kitchen At Night

The kitchen images above show the Lumenhaus kitchen in the daytime, and this next set of images show the kitchen at night. The blonde wood which must be maple or birch is not only beautiful, but it gives the kitchen a wide-open space, which is warm and the beautiful lighting gives it a romantic appeal.

As a designer, I have always liked smaller, intimate, well-designed spaces. which follow the premise that Less, Is More. There is really something to be said for highly optimized space utilization, and this is where the LumenHaus really excels.

The photos below show a dinner party taking place in the LumenHaus.


The LumenHaus bathroom is the centerpiece of the LumenHaus, literally and figuratively. Before we explore the details, let's examine the core structure. In this first photo below, we see the bathroom cube structure from the kitchen, looking toward the bedroom.

This next photo was taken standing in front of the LumenHaus bathroom door. We see the sink directly in front, with the toilet to the right and a sliding frosted door, that lets natural light in, while maintaining privacy. 

This next image is a close up of the sink. One of the most interesting features about the LumenHaus is that the when you are in the bathroom, it has a completely different vibe than the rest of the LumenHaus.

This next image taken with a fish-eye lens gives an interesting perspective on the bathroom layout, including the light well.

In the next photo, you can see the shower area located on the left side of the image.

If you look closely, in the next image below, you can see the shower head in the mirror on the right side of the mirror.

In this next image you see the unfinished bathroom structure from the opposite kitchen perspective. Obviously the rectangular cutout on the front is for the big screen TV.

In the next image, we see the same bathroom structure from the front door perspective.


The photo below it taken from the bedroom looking past the bathroom cube to the kitchen. The Office nook is located in the left cooridor, and you can also see the bathroom door which is in the open position. Notice the four closet doors which are closed.

In the photo below, we see the two sets of two-door closets slid out of the way to not only expose a flat scree TV, but notice that the closets double as hallway doors, to block-off and isolate the bedroom from the rest of the place. This is absolute genius design. 

My only constructive criticism is that I believe the TV should be much, much larger. I believe both TVs, located on each side of the bathroom should have TV's that are as large as possible. I think they should be 70, 80 or even 90 inches with 4K resolution.

This next photo shows the unmade modular bed, which apparently doubles as multiple seating surfaces, for when you have company, I think? You can see in this image how the bed faces the cabinets pictured above.

In the photo below, we see the bed with the end removed, and we also get a good view of the innovative ceiling lighting.

The photo below shows the bedroom with the bed made up, and you notice in the open cabinet located on the left side of the bed, there is an LG washer/dryer machine. The LG washer/dryer is an HE machine, and it washes, then dries your clothes. It runs on 110 and is extremely fuel efficient.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tiny Transformer Apartment Eight Rooms in 420 Feet in NYC

Tiny Transformer Apartment
Eight Rooms in 420 Feet in NYC

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