Active and Passive Systems Ignite Team Tennessee's Living Light

The University of Tennessee’s Living Light house incorporates the knowledge of Tennessee’s past and present to create an environmentally responsive, comfortable home to meet the needs of today. The dual extremes of our climate led the original inhabitants of Tennessee to create distinct winter and summer houses tailored to the demands of heating and cooling. Other building types, such as the dog-trot house and cantilever barn, also prompted interesting responses to the region’s unique design constraints through local materials and passive design strategies. These initial design practices continue to be relevant today, when combined with new and innovative technologies and have been a primary source of inspiration for the Living Light concept.

Through our analysis we have developed a four-part hierarchy for integrating passive and active systems:
1. Basic Building Design (siting, orientation, massing, and space planning)
2. Passive Design (daylighting, natural ventilation, cooling, and heat gain)
3. High Performance Building (efficient HVAC, active envelope, building sensoring)
4. Green Power (decentralized and grid-tied systems of solar, wind, etc.)

Our intent is to define the appropriate level of design--to begin with simple strategies and add complexity as necessary.

Like the cantilever barn, the floor plan is organized around two wooden cores that are pushed to the extents of the space. The utility core houses the engineered systems and most kitchen appliances. An island provides additional kitchen preparation space and dining for two. The opposite core contains the more private elements of the bed and bath. The bed tucks neatly behind the cabinetry, allowing the occupant to fully utilize the space for the entertainment system and storage. The dark toned materials of the core frame the light wood tones of the interior and exterior living spaces. The use of modular furniture in the open space allows the home to transform to various needs, while opening it up to exterior views and maximizing day lighting capabilities. The Living Light house uses glass for transparency, day lighting, and views to the surrounding environment.


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