Creative Silo House by Cornell University


Earlier this month, we previewed each of 20 solar-powered homes competing in the Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll try to delve into more detail to uncover innovation at its best.  This house, the Silo House, was designed and built by over 150 students and faculty at Cornell University.  It features three, 16-foot diameter silos that hold the kitchen, bedroom, and living room.  The Silo House is grid-tied and powered by 40, 200-watt photovoltaic panels, a solar thermal system, and a building integrated solar thermal system.  The Silo House currently leads the competition … will they be the team to take first place?

With Cornell University’s contribution to the field, I guess you could say the silo home is becoming the new, well, container home.  Gruene Homestead Inn in Texas took a 1940s grain silo and turned it into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom rental.  Similarly, Mr. Earl had a silo home built in Woodland, Utah, and it’s received considerable attention in the past couple years.

The Silo House by Cornell has 800 square feet of space.  NanaWalls open up, and all the rooms look out to a covered courtyard space.  On the exterior, the patina from the COR-TEN corrugated steel cladding is beginning to set in and the home looks absolutely rural.

Incidentally, offers are being accepted on the Silo House through October 30, 2009.  The asking price is $199,000, although Cornell has put roughly $425,000 in materials, $200,000 in labor, and $100,000 in professional design fees into the project.  A successful purchaser will have to transport it from Ithaca, New York, and get the home all set up.  Nevertheless, with all that’s been invested already, $199,000+ seems like a bargain.  Learn more:

[+] Cornell University Solar Decathlon.


Silo-house-kitchen2 Silo-house-bathroom

Silo-house-interior Silo-house-bed


Photo credits: Stefano Paltera/DOE (top); CUSD (rest).

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  • Anonymous

    Very cool home. I like everything except the bed, even though I understand their reason for the design. But that wouldn’t work in a household like ours, where I get up for work much earlier than my wife. I would either have to crawl under the bed to get my stuff out of the cabinet, or raise my wife into the ceiling just to get ready for work, LOL.

  • Mac

    Pioneer Millworks supplied the eco-friendly engineered reclaimed ash flooring for the Cornell Solar Decathalon Home now on display in Washington. Reclaimed as timbers from agricultural and industrial buildings this floor looks great in a contemporary setting, is a green, FSC certified product and is LEED point eligible. Check out Pioneer Millworks other reclaimed and sustainable floors at:

  • Portland Real Estate

    Very cool. Its kind of amazing that they could turn something as ugly as a silo into a very nice looking modern home with tons of green features.


  • Anonymous

    That is very cool! I grew up in Iowa, so I can really appreciate this concept!

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