Solar-Powered House in Canberra Follows the Sun 3

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
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Girasole House Rotation
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The Girasole House uses a touch screen panel and can fully rotate in less than 10 minutes to face the sun and optimize solar energy collection.

Designed by DNA Architects, Girasole is a rotating efficient home that takes full advantage of solar power year-round.

Located on a 704 square metre site in Crace, a Canberra suburban neighbourhood, it offers great views over the Gungaderra Grasslands Nature Reserve.

Inspired by Galileo Galilee’s idea of ‘eppure si mouve’ (‘the earth is moving’), the objective was to build a house that followed the sun, while the architects also aimed to demonstrate how natural resources such as solar energy and water can be maximized.

The prototype reduces the need to ensure homes are perfectly oriented and demonstrates that even the most ambitious ideas can be realised in the quest to create sustainable homes.

The sloping roof, featuring 24 solar panels, is designed to allow for maximum solar penetration, but the unique advantage of Girasole is that it tracks the sun during the day, capturing full sunlight in winter and moving away from it in summer. The rotating system can be operated automatic or manually, making the design even more flexible and adaptable to weather changes.

Girasole House Rotation

Ground floor plan

The circular steel structure, supported by 28 wheels and driven by two three-speed motors, features 173 square metres of living space, including a large living and dining area with an incorporated kitchen, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and three terraces.

The roof area and garage capture rainwater to fill a 20,000-litre underground water tank that can service the whole house and garden, eliminating the need to be connected to the grid. The rainwater can also be used to serve only specific areas such as the toilet, laundry or garden.

Girasole House Rotation

The house is supported by 28 wheels driven by two motors situated on opposite sides of the house.

While the 10.5-kilowatt solar panels on the roof can generate sufficient power and hot water to supply the house all year round, the house has very high insulation levels to maximise passive heating and cooling.

The polystyrene external cladding used has the highest insulation rating possible. The design and Weathertex exterior wall cladding around the curved area of the house along with increased bulk insulation within the stud frames create an insulated box-like structure.

Girasole House Rotation

Operated by a touch screen panel, the home can fully rotate in less than 10 minutes.

Operable doors and windows in each room help to improve natural cross ventilation and top windows in the living area are electronically controlled to let the heat out in summer. The living room windows are clear doubled-glazed aluminium to allow the winter sun to warm the house when facing north. In the summer, the house can turn away from the sun to protect itself with a low-emissivity glazing system that reflects the heat.

Despite the fact that similar homes in Australia tend to suffer from excessive operating noise, engineers have worked hard to make this one quiet and the result was essentially a silent system.

Girasole House Rotation

Girasole tracks the sun during the day, capturing sunlight in winter and moving away from it in summer.

After an auction campaign failed to attract any bidders last year, the house was sold for $1.2 million, which is believed to be a record price in the suburb of Crace.

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  1. Alice Morgan

    The Girasole project won the Sustainable Buildings – Residential category award in the 2013 Keep Australia Beautiful ACT Sustainable Cities Awards. The 2014 round is open right now for projects just like this.

  2. Nigel Griffin

    A solar site directed me here to look at this house, which may I mention is an awesome design.Problem with the energy efficiency side is in winter you would want the large windows facing the sun to help warm the house the solar panels I'm informed are on the roof would then be facing away from the low angled sun in winter.

    • Phillip

      Further to Nigel's comments his information is incorrect. The 24 solar panels are on the garage ( which does not rotate) and are exposed to the sun daylight to dusk. At the time of writing it is 11 degrees outside, totally overcast and the panel's are producing 441 v at 2.5A.