Embodying the raw aesthetic and functionality of the Chesapeake Bay, and balancing the necessity for a low-impact way of living in such a delicate watershed, the 2011 University of Maryland Solar Decathlon Team has conceptualized and articulated a design for a new form of living; a home simply name “Watershed.”
“Watershed” draws inspiration from the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States. Development, agriculture, and general misuse have disrupted the Bay’s delicate ecosystem over the centuries, and have led to a growing influx of chemicals and nutrients into the Bay. The massive watershed houses 16.6 million people, which influenced the University of Maryland Solar Decathlon Team to design a home to serve as a model of housing that “demonstrates ways in which human settlements can be designed to help protect this precious ecosystem.”
The University of Maryland Team is a multi-disciplinary group, comprised of Architects, Landscape Architects, Engineers , Hydrologists, Ecologists, and many more. The design of the house as a “micro scale eco-system” led to the use of solar energy harvesting, green roof water harvesting, waste material reuse, and the central water axis at the core of the house. The home’s roofline is divided by a water axis, comprised of wetland plants that filter rainwater and runoff. This axis allows the tilted roofs to drain into the central water axis; an homage to the existing cycle and function of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The rainwater collected may be used to irrigate the landscape, or released back into the watershed directly, as newly cleansed water.
The harvesting of renewable energy, the cleansing of natural systems, and the reconnection to the watershed in which the home resides, remind not only the resident(s) of the home, but to all residents within the watershed, that humans can live, play, and interact with their environment in a harmonious manner.
This begs the question: what will your impact be?