An affordable, net-zero energy duplex family home, which has been designed by a team of Ball State University students and faculty, is one step closer to being built. 

The duplex, referred to as the “Alley House,” was designed by a group of students and faculty of Ball State University’s R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2023 Build Challenge, an international competition. 

CAP’s Solar Decathlon Build Team for the Alley House project was recently selected as one of 14 (out of 28) teams to advance to the construction stage of the competition. Ball State CAP’s Build Team was awarded $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy for the build. 

Along with this latest victory in the Solar Decathlon competition, Ball State CAP students remain mindful of how projects such as the Alley House project can impact people. 

“The driving force leading our creative energy is thinking about the families who will call our project home,” said Matt Martella, one of the CAP students working on the duplex. “At the end of the day, we care most about the families we are fortunate enough to serve.” 

The plan is for the Alley House to be built in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Westminster/St. Philip Neri on the city’s Near Eastside. CAP is now working to raise the additional funding needed to build this duplex. The Alley House project has been selected as one of the top 200 causes/projects (out of 4,000 submitted) for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program and is currently competing to be among the top 100 vote recipients. Each of those recipients will be awarded $25,000 for its cause or project. Online voting for the Alley House project can be completed through May 6. 

The Alley House duplex “will be part of a much larger initiative of our community partner Englewood CDC, and Gratus Development,” said Pam Harwood, professor of Architecture at Ball State. “They are building 40 units or 20 duplex family homes. We are working with Englewood CDC to provide one net-zero energy home in the overall Englewood Homes project.” 

Solar Decathlon participants from Ball State include interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students from all four CAP departments: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, and Construction Management and Interior Design. Approximately 100 undergraduate and graduate students will be involved directly through enrollment in eight courses over five semesters (Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Summer 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023) at Ball State’s Muncie campus and CAP: Indy location. 

This Solar Decathlon effort is one of Ball State’s immersive learning projects—high-impact learning experiences that involve collaborative student-driven teams, guided by faculty mentors. Students earn credit for working with community partners such as businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to address community challenges through the creation of a product that has a lasting impact. 

Read this Ball State blog post to learn more about The Alley House, the Solar Decathlon immersive learning project, and the CAP students’ commitment to keeping people at the forefront when planning and designing structures. CAP also maintains a Solar Decathlon site with more information on the Alley House project.