ORA House: An Ecosystemic Approach to Design of a Net-Zero House for the Middle East

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A net zero residential unit for a harsh climate condition as that of the middle east is a challenging goal. With temperatures rising up to 50 degrees during peak summer in addition to occasional dust storms and high humidity levels, achieving a desirable indoor comfort conditions require architects and engineers to break away from the conventional design strategies and look for innovations in spatial planning, materials and building technology.

ORA house is a net zero residential project that was designed and built for the first ever Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 (SDME). SDME 2018 - an international design competition was organized by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority of United Arab Emirates in collaboration with Department of Energy - United States. The ORA House project was led by a multi-disciplinary team of undergraduate students and faculty. The project was developed over a period of one and half years in collaboration with key industry partners.

One of the successful design strategy for the ORA House was the conception of its own name. Inspired by the model of natural ecosystems, ‘ORA’ an acronym of ‘Organic’, ‘Resilient’ and ‘Adaptive’ represents three separate ecologies that come together forming a synergy whereby the independent systems operates in a symbiotic relationship. While the ‘Organic’ ecology comprises of all the passive design strategies, ‘Resilient’ eco systems addresses the active design systems employed in the ORA House. ‘Adaptive’ eco systems recognizes and facilitates the requirements of a multi-cultural and diverse population of UAE. The adoption of a diversified eco-system as its driving design concept, helped the multi-disciplinary team to align their individual design components to a holistic integrated system. This increased the efficiency and performance of the ORA house in comparison to the conventional residential models that prevails in the region.

The project presentation shared insights into the strategies and systems of each of the independent ecologies that contributes to the overall ecosystem of the ORA House.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event108th ACSA Annual Meeting 2020 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 12 Mar 202014 Mar 2020


Conference108th ACSA Annual Meeting 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • Net zero building
  • Sustainable architecture
  • design and manufacture
  • Desert
  • Residential building
  • Architectural design
  • Architecture


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