NexusHaus: A Housing Design Partnership Success at UT Blending Innovation & Market Potential

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Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy holds a Solar Decathlon. As a collegiate competition, it’s designed to challenge teams of students using 10 contests testing them on their efforts to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The team that best blends energy and water efficiency, energy production, and innovation with market potential is named winner of the competition.

During the 2015 competition, a group of University of Texas architecture students partnering with Germany’s Technische Universitaet Muenchen devised a plan that would address the issue of the city of Austin’s burgeoning population together with its affordability issues. They developed what’s called the NexusHaus. Through a crowdfunding campaign garnering just over 21,000 dollars, the NexusHaus was developed as a single-story, 850-square-foot home designed with solar and energy-efficient technology and constructed with reusable and renewable materials. The home featured solar panels along its flat roof to provide enough electricity to operate the home as well as charge an electric car, and after its participation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in October of that year, the NexusHaus was set to become an accessory dwelling home (i.e. a “granny flat” or a tiny home external of the main house) in East Austin.

Nowadays, it’s not hard to believe that by harnessing the power of the sun and collecting rainwater, you can have a fully functional home. Only a few short decades ago, this would be considered a pipe dream, or something only imaginable on the Jetsons. This University of Texas modular home proved it could be accomplished, and easily calculated to suit today’s modern requirements. The designs in the video were developed by a team of students whose goal was to provide a modular home design that could operate off-grid. By combining innovations such as rainwater reuse and greywater recycling with solar power options, they addressed a housing need for areas with lots of sunlight and minimal rainfall.

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