TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living

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TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living

TRTL, Canada's entry for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, is a unique response to the culture of Treaty 7 Native Peoples in Southern Alberta. Inspired by the tipi, the house's rounded form, east-facing entrance, and south-facing windows relate to the sun as a traditional source of energy and life. The two-bedroom, open-concept design is flexible and includes ample space for storage, recreation, and communal gatherings for meals.

Design Philosophy
Canada's design integrates technology and tradition. From a technological perspective, green building materials and renewable energy technologies result in a house that is healthy, safe, durable, and affordable. From a traditional perspective, the design is guided by a holistic view of the home as a living part of a greater natural order. The result is TRTL (Technological Residence, Traditional Living), a house that respects the value of culture in promoting sustainability.

TRTL extends beyond its Treaty 7 partners to address issues faced by many native groups in Canada. Its features include:

Materials and color palettes that reflect customary art and the natural environment

Magnesium oxide-based structural insulated panels that are highly resistant to fire and mold

An 8.3-kW photovoltaic system engineered for high performance in Alberta's harsh winter climate.

Canada incorporates innovative technologies into its traditional house, including:

A highly effective air-to-water heat pump used for space conditioning and hot water production

A photovoltaic system that operates at 93% of its optimal efficiency and has a rounded form that responds to the cultural desires of the client

A sophisticated control system that allows for monitoring and long-term optimization.

Market Strategy
There are more than 600 native groups in Canada, totaling more than 1.1 million people. Housing failures within and beyond Treaty 7 include sub-standard design, implementation, and maintenance as well as demand that far exceeds supply. The collaborative design, validation, and cross-cultural dialogue employed in the creation of TRTL provide a model for affecting positive change.

What's Next
To ensure the greatest impact in terms of knowledge sharing and dissemination, Canada is exploring opportunities to place TRTL on campus or in the surrounding community. This effort is being guided by its university, community, and sponsor stakeholders as a continuation of the project's collaborative spirit. A legacy team is also being built to develop and implement future plans, including post-competition monitoring, LEED certification, lifecycle analysis, and design refinement based on lessons learned. An interactive education program is also in progress to engage native K–12 students.

Description from the architects


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Building Activity

  • Georgi Sokolov
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    TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living TRTL – Technological Residence, Traditional Living Canada's Solar Decathlon 2011 Video Walkthrough
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