The award-winning, energy-efficient, modular, student-designed and–built Lumenhaus has arrived in Millennium Park, but the journey was not without its hitches. As we waited a few minutes past the appointed time to tour the house last night, I was told that the home, which was trucked on a trailer from Virginia Tech University, had been stopped at the border the day before. Border? Had the driver made a wrong turn and gone into Canada? Apparently every state has different regulations about wide and heavy loads, and there were some paperwork issues when they reached Illinois, so Lumenhaus did not arrive til 4 a.m. Wednesday. The Virginia Tech students who designed the home worked feverishly all day to putting it together to have it ready for the 5:30 p.m. showing.
It’s a fascinating example of how to live efficiently—spacewise and energy-wise—and there are many cool ideas here for any homeowner. I loved the cabinetry in the bedroom area that slides out to reveal a TV and create a wall for privacy. The bathroom—an elegant little gem—should be a model for any small space. I also loved Haefele’s pull-down shelves and Duo-Gard’s illuminated walls. Solar panels, grey-water ponds on the home’s decks—they’re all here. The home won the International Solar Decathlon Competition in Madrid in June.
You can tour Lumenhaus in Millennium Park for free through Saturday (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Then it gets back on the trailer to go to Plano to sit on the grounds of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House—a fitting choice, since van der Rohe was an obvious inspiration for the glass Lumenhaus. Here’s hoping there are no more border incidents.