Our Solution

There is a general lack of student accommodation in Prague. Moreover, if you are lucky enough to get a room, it will most likely be in the communist-era-built dormitory where the time has stopped. We aim to tackle these challenges by developing a modular system enabling the addition of storeys on top of the existing building to extend its accommodation capacity fulfilling current living standards. Along with the renovation of the existing building including smart control integration, it allows to significantly improve the overall energy performance and quality of living.

We aim to contribute to the improvement of student living with a vision of bringing as much as possible with minimum impacts on the environment while fulfilling these goals:

  • increase student accommodation capacity, ensuring higher living standards than the existing building;
  • improve the overall energy performance of the whole building;
  • solution applicable to wide range of similar buildings
  • respect the architectural and urban context of the locality.

Our model building, the Vetrnik dormitory, built in 60’s of the 20th century, is the typical representative of the above-mentioned case. Increasing the accommodation capacity will be reached by adding a storey on the top of the street wing and two storeys on the side wings. Besides the student rooms, the new storeys will also provide communal spaces, enabling social life to thrive. In the case of the current building, necessary envelope improvements will be designed, consisting of insulating façades and window replacement.

Vetrník dormitory current state

A new HVAC system supported by a smart Measurement and Control system is supposed to be installed and connected with new storeys. New roofs will accommodate integrated PV and greenery. We take it for granted that we will use ventilation with heat recovery and sustainable rainwater management. System optimization and renovation will result in significantly reduced energy consumption of the whole building despite its extension.

Vetrník with FIRSTlife design extension

The load from the added storeys will be transferred to the existing building using a steel grid supported by the existing load-bearing walls. The new structures are composed as lightweight using the wooden panels to minimize not only the additional load but also the carbon footprint, which is another very important aspect of our design. Prefabricated panels composed of modular system cells will allow investors to reduce the assembly time and minimize bothering the inhabitants from the existing building and surroundings.

The team will construct and test a small part as a demonstration unit (HDU) that will represent the modular idea of FIRSTlife design. After the tests, conducted at University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings (UCEEB), the unit will be moved to Wuppertal, Germany, for the final expo, which will be held in June 2022. 

FIRSTlife demonstration unit for Wuppertal finals

While sustainable and energy-efficient buildings are a frequently discussed topic that we deeply care about, this project is about much more to us. We project our own experiences and perception into it. The unavailability of apartments and high prices in Prague affect all the young people every day. The student dormitories capacity is deficient. These circumstances bring students to, lightly said, challenging life situations. Students, who have ever experienced living in dormitories, concur, that if any part of university student life deserves an improvement, it should be the dormitories. We know it, we have lived there.