Smart house lets Duke students experiment on a residence hall

Conceived by 2003 Duke engineering grad Mark Younger as an opportunity for students to gain practical design experience and to encourage cross-disciplinary teamwork, Duke University's "smart house" is a residential research experiment.
August 11, 2010

Duke University’s idea of the future residence hall: the $1.2 million, 4,500-sf Duke Smart House, a residential research experiment on the university’s Durham, N.C., campus where up to 10 Pratt School of Engineering undergraduates can live and breathe their major.

The project was conceived by 2003 Duke engineering grad Mark Younger as an opportunity for students to gain practical design experience and to encourage cross-disciplinary teamwork. Students who live in the house develop the systems in and around it, and then have to live with the results—both good and bad—of their design and technology decisions.

Designed to improve the quality of life of its residents, the two-story house includes such features as voice-command lights, music, and temperature controls; a system that filters out unwanted background noise; facial recognition security cameras; and embedded fiber-optic strands and acoustic emission sensors to detect movement, cracks, or breaks in the structure and foundation. Sustainable features include a system that monitors power consumption on a room-by-room basis, efficient cooling systems, and indoor environmental quality monitors to create a low-toxin, low-pathogen environment. A green roof tops off the house.

The Smart House has five double bedrooms, two to three full bathrooms, one half bath, kitchen, living room, study-library, laboratory, mechanical/utility space, and a central courtyard. A residential advisor also has a single room.

Architect Frank Harmon, Raleigh, N.C., designed the house’s overall architecture, in collaboration with a team of Smart House students.

         
 

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