the silo house : Natalie Pierro

The Silo House

Solar-powered dwelling; designed for Ithaca, NY (completed Fall 2009)

This project was entirely student-designed and built as per the rules and regulations of the Solar Decathlon competition (through the U.S. Department of Energy). Almost a two-year process from design to completion, this house required the efforts of a core team of about 20 members, and a greater campus team of over 100 students representing a wide range of academic disciplines. (Please see “Work Experience: Cornell University Solar Decathlon Team” on my Curriculum Vitae)

Design Concept:
The Silo House engages sustainable, modular design with a unique assembly of circular and orthogonal elements, formally similar to the vernacular architecture found in upstate New York. The house is composed of a central square courtyard surrounded by three conditioned “living” cylinders with a rectilinear array of photovoltaics floating above the entire structure. The open courtyard serves as the focal point of the house, organizing the adjoining cylinders – living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Each room utilizes transformative elements that provide the flexibility necessary to make the small space comfortable while maintaining a loyalty to the purity of the circular form. Additionally, large operable Nanawalls open the space between the cylinders and the courtyard completely, allowing for a flexible interior/exterior condition.

The house has been presented at the 2009 New York State Fair (Syracuse, NY), the 2009 Solar Decathlon (Washington, D.C.), and currently resides on the eastern shore of Peaks Island, Maine. For further information on the the Silo House and the 2009 Cornell University Solar Decathlon team, go to:

For a video tour of the house, see: Team Cornell (video courtesy of the 2009 Solar Decathlon)

Photographs courtesy of Chris Goodney, 2009.