NCTU Unicode is developing a prototype house that will use progressive greenhouse technology developed in Taiwan for the cultivation of orchids in order to coexist with nature. In addition to emphasizing harmony with nature, NCTU Unicode also strives to create a comfortable living space, which in Taiwan, means dealing with high temperatures and extreme humidity. We believe that using less energy for climate control in the house makes the project more sustainable and more attractive to the market not only in Taiwan but also in other countries as well. We want to devise a solar house solution that is suitable for the local conditions, but can also be applied to a wider range of locations as well.We took inspiration for most of the design concept of this project from the local conditions in Taiwan, considering elements such as the island climate, available technology, industrialization methods, and social housing issues.


Island Climate


Located on the Tropicof Cancer, Taiwan has a marine tropical climate. The northern part of the island has a rainy season that lasts from January through late March. The entire island also experiences hot, humid weather from June through September. In order to create a comfortable living space, the high temperature and humidity are the biggest issues to solve. In the present day, eco-friendly practices are also of extreme importance, so we plan to use the lowest amount of energy possible for climate control in the house.


Social Housing Issues


We are also aware of the issues in social housing in We are also aware of the problems with social housing in Taiwan and are trying to configure our house to improve the conditions. The housing system in Taiwan has been fully commercialized. In the beginning, public housing was able to fulfill a social function, but almost every unit has since been sold off and privatized. As a result the system ignores disadvantaged groups, social justice and low-income housing: rented housing accounts for only 0.8% of public housing. We realize that the system we develop for the Solar Decathlon Europe is also applicable for the social housing; not only will renewable energy create a comfortable living space, but it can also reduce utility and living costs.
Green House Technology


When we started to develop the concept of our house, we looked into the avant-garde greenhouse technologies that are available in Taiwan, with special focus on the cultivation of orchids. Taiwan is world famous for its successful industry in the growth of orchids. We recognized that Taiwan’s greenhouse technology is supremely advanced and realized that it is ideal for implementation in our project house to control the temperatures and humidity of our inside space.


The Sketch of the Project Concept


A house is like a plant. The leaves collect dewdrops, and the roots absorb water, which circulate in the stems, and the leaves perform photosynthesis. This cycle creates water and energy, which are then properly stored and supplied to the entire plant. Our house will function similarly, as the solar panels absorb and convert light from the sun, into energy that is stored in the battery then supplied to the rest of the house. We can also harvest, circulate, recycle and reuse our own water.
We draw our first key concept metaphorically from Orchid, which is a family of unique, abundant and beautiful plants in Taiwan. They grow symbiotically on tall trees, nourished by a perfected balance weather of indirect sunlight and supply of rainwater.
Our solar house prototype which is targeted to be developed and implemented in the future on rooftops over a great number of existing urban housing in Taiwan. The second key concept is “Blue Sky” which carefully concern about both the water and urban issue. To offer such added rooftop space for affordable Youth housing via policy backing, a solution that is aligned with the government’s policy. And, Last but not the least, ”Power House” is the keyword we envisage a reclaimed civic space on the roof can offer a valuable social and economic engine to a new Taipei.
The concept of Orchid House is designed according to the Taiwanese local conditions, it offers benefits in energy, urban, and social aspects. We are extremely excited and proud about SDE competition and the opportunity to create this wonderful solution. We wish Orchid House’s values help to improve the quality of built environment not only in Taiwan but the entire global community.

All Rights Reserved. NCTU UNICODE Team, Project Orchid House, for Solar Decathlon Europe 2014. Authorship of the articles, documents, photographs, videos and presentations found on this site are belong to their corresponding creators, if not mentioned otherwise.
NCTU UNICODE Team is a project team composed of faculty and students mainly from the Graduate Institute of Architecture, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.