The Soft Energy Path presented by Amory Lovins at The Rocky Mountain Institute in 1978, outlined the value of multiple and hybrid approaches to reduce mainstream consumption of non-renewable energy sources. Drawing upon these principles, the Soft House research group, a team of architects, engineers, fabricators and manufacturers organized by KVA MATx created a prefabricated house design where the performance and material potentials of disruptive organic photovoltaic (OPV) nanotechnology could succeed without having to compete with the dominant technology of the electric grid.

The Soft House transforms the household curtain into a set of energy harvesting and light emitting textiles that power solid state lighting and portable work tools such as laptops, digital cameras, etc. Soft House textiles can adapt to the changing space needs of home owners and can be moved to follow the sun generating up to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity - more than half of the daily power needs of an average household in the United States. KVA MATx was commissioned by the Vitra Design Museum to realize full scale prototypes of the Soft House energy harvesting textiles for the exhibit “Open House: Architecture and Technology for Intelligent Living.”

Mobile Low Voltage
The DC power generated by SOFT HOUSE textiles is harvested and distributed by a central curtain and a perimeter curtain which travel on a standard track.

Software & Soft Materials
Parametric design software for the SOFT HOUSE allows the homeowner to customize the density of the textiles according to need and guides the relationship of building form to site. Digitally fabricated engineered wood beams form a grid shell structure which can be customized through parametric modeling to accommodate a range of different site orientations.

Date: 2008 - Ongoing
Status: Prototype Completed, Research Ongoing
Client: KVA MATx Initiated Research Project
Location: USA
Design Team:
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA; Principal in Charge
Frano Violich, FAIA; Principal Consulting on Design
Veit Kugel, Dipl Ing, Senior Associate; Project Designer
Tonya Ohnstad, Ted Steinemann, Patricia Gruits LEED AP, Sloan Kulper IDSA, Jason O'Mara, Skender Luarasi, Isamu Kanda, Daniel Bonham
Architecture and Technology Integration: Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd
Building Manufacturer: Kullman Buildings Coorporation
Digital Fabricator: Milgo Bufkin, Inc
Intelligent Textiles Engineerings: Interactive - Wear, GmBH
Photovoltaic Manufacturer: G24 Innovations, Inc
Project/Construction Management: Hudson Meridian Construction Group
Structural Engineer Roof: Schlaich Bergermann & Partner LP
Textile Manufacturer: AB Ludwig Svensson, Inc

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