Students build 100 per cent solar powered house in Dubai

It can produce electricity directly from sunlight, courtesy of solar panels installed on the roof.

Baitykool protype being constructed at Amity University
Baitykool protype being constructed at Amity University

Angel Tesorero

Published: Thu 11 Oct 2018, 5:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 8 Dec 2022, 9:51 AM

Using the power of the sun, available in the UAE 365 days in a year, a group of visiting students from France and Palestine partnered with home-grown varsitarians to build a house that is perfect for the desert environment.

Baitykool, a 100-percent solar-powered house designed for hot climate is being constructed at the Amity University campus in Dubai by French students, and assisted by students from the same university. The house is their entry for the upcoming Solar Decathlon Middle East, an architectural and engineering competition, happening in Dubai in November.

"Our main objective is to build a highly efficient, innovative and renewable-energy powered home of the future," Kais Bhouri, 25, project architect of Baitykool and student at Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et de Paysage de Bordeaux (ENSAPBx), told Khaleej Times on Thursday.

"We have designed a home that reflects the traditional and modern ways of life in the UAE. Our goal for Baitykool is to support the ambition of Dubai for a green city by 2030," added Bhouri.

Baitykool - a portmanteau of the words 'baity', which means home in Arabic, and 'kool' - is a U-shaped single-detached house made out of recyclable and low impact materials. It can produce electricity directly from sunlight, courtesy of solar panels installed on the roof.

The floor is concrete and the beams and walls are pre-fabricated wooden panels from France and transported to Dubai. For insulation, inserted in the double-sided walls are clay bricks; and instead of painting the walls, these are covered with white canvas made from 40 per cent corn husk.

The inside floor area is 84 sqm, divided into living room, kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The exterior height, from the ground to the roof, is 5m and indoor, from floor to ceiling, is 3.8m.

To create a more livable space, Baitykool has an adjacent 25 sqm patio that can be used for outdoor activities and gardening.

Another main attraction of Baitykool, which is being constructed for the competition at a total cost of 600,000 euros (Dh2.55m), is its aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants). So, aside from generating its own energy, the eco-friendly house can also produce its own food and sustain its occupants.

"The home has space to grow food and recycle water internally," said Bertrand Canigiani, 37, an aquaponics system engineer from French company Arkiturria, who is responsible for creating the 2m long, 1.5m high and 0.35m wide aquarium attached to the outside wall of Baitykool.

"Basically, we can recycle and save 90 per cent of water used in Baitykool," Canigiani said. "And the aquarium, which is used not just to filter the water, adds a more relaxing ambience to the house. With hydroponics, we can also grow vegetables to make real 'home-made salad'," he added.

Commenting on the eco-project, French Ambassador Ludovic Pouille said: "Baitykool is being developed to solve the problem of hot weather in the country. This innovative project carries loud and clear France's commitment to fighting climate change. Baitykool's ambitions are fully aligned with the commitment of the 'One Planet Summit' recently held in New York and reflects the 'Make Our Planet Great Again initiative launched by French President Emmanuel Macron last year which is an appeal to all researchers, teachers, entrepreneurs, associations, NGOs, students and the civil society to come together to help devise climate change solutions."

The Baitykool team is composed of students from Bordeaux University, Arts et Métiers School (ENSAM), ENSAPBx, An Najah National University (Palestine) and Amity University (Dubaï). They started with design conceptualization back in September 2016. Prefabricaiton of materials for Baitykool began in May and installation started in July. The prototype house is ready for the Solar Decathlon Middle East competition in two weeks.

Buidling solar-powered homes

Solar Decathlon Middle East, held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, is a collegiate competition of 10 contests that challenge students to design and build solar-powered houses that adapt to heat, dust and high humidity in the Middle East. The houses use solar energy as the only energy source and are equipped with all the technologies that permit maximum energy efficiency. In this year's edition, 18 teams from 13 countries and 32 universities are vying for the top award and over Dh10m in total prizes.

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