One of the many trials of solar power: Solar panels work best if they're directly under the sun, and since the sun moves through the day, a fixed panel doesn't work as well as it could most of the time. A new house solves the problem in an unusual way: As the Earth rotates, the house moves with it. The panels on the roof always soak up as much sunlight as possible.
The shape-shifting house also gives more room where it's needed. "The main drive for the project was to bring life to buildings by adding dynamics to their interior and exterior spaces," says Manuel Vieira Lopes, founder of the Portugal-based Casas Em Movimento, who first started developing the design for the 2012 Madrid Solar Decathlon. "The solar panel came as an option that seemed natural to give the building self-sufficiency."
The panels work so well that they actually produce five times the energy used by the house. Though solar panels and homes are so efficient now that most people might not need so much extra electricity, someone could use the power to charge an electric car or make money by selling power back to the grid.
Inside, the rooms shift in position as the house slowly moves. "It contains an interior static element, that allows areas to adapt to its users' needs, automatically," Lopes says. "As an example, in the morning the kitchen can have a smaller size, as breakfast is usually an activity that takes a short time, while at night it can be integrated with the living room so the family can be together and enjoy their time." An app controls the layout of the house, so if you want to shift things on the weekend, it just takes a couple of taps.
The architects are building a prototype in Matosinhos, Portugal, that will be completed this spring, with five stacked floors that all rotate separately. And they're looking for their first buyer. "We are now looking for [someone] who desires to own the first house with the most innovative technology in the world," says Lopes.