Author profile picture

“You quickly learn how the electrician or carpenter reads your construction drawings, you learn how a contractor works and that things may go differently than planned,” student of architecture, but most of all spokesperson of the student team VIRTUe, Michiel Derikx says. The TU/e has eleven student teams that focus on the challenges of the future such as energy, health, and mobility. During the Dutch Technology Week, the student teams will present themselves on 8th and 9th of June. Derikx gives us an insight into how such a student team ‘works’.

Want to know more about this project? Read Students TU/e are building a smart home for DTW18

When you walk from the station towards the TU/e area, you will immediately see it: LINQ, a smart and sustainable home with which VIRTUe participates in the Solar Decathlon in Dubai next November. Derikx is pleased with the prominent place on the Koeveld near the auditorium, which the TU/e awarded them. “This way it makes it really visible to everyone what we are actually doing.”

Main photo: Bart van Overbeeke

“About 250,000 people will walk through it. We have to be prepared”Michiel Derikx, student bouwkunde en woordvoerder VIRTUe

Derikx gives a quick tour in LINQ. There is a living room, a bedroom and in the middle a module for the kitchen, bathroom and electricity unit. Students, electricians, carpenters, it all mixes during construction. We hinder when a string is stretched to place a wall. While passing by, the electrician tells Derikx that the drawing was correct after all. “Fortunately.” For Derikx it is also exciting to see how their drawings are converted into a tangible and visible apartment. “You do not know how it works out in practice.”


Two years ago they started a project. Since they were nominated for the Solar Decathlon, they are a student team. To become a student team you present your vision to the Executive Board. If they think your vision is one for a longer term than a year or longer than the duration of a competition, then you can become a student team, Derikx explains. Every year, every student team at the University shows what the progress is and they will or will not be allowed to continue for a year. All student teams are coordinated by Mia Jelsma. Derikx: “She is very enthusiastic about everything we do and we can always ask questions or she helps when mediation is needed.” She helped to arrange insurance for transporting LINQ to Dubai, among other things. “By the way, all student teams help each other. They refer to their business partners, for example, to arrange such an insurance.”

Derikx completed his bachelor’s degree this spring and put his studies on hold for a year. This way he can focus on the match full time. This means that, since they are building, he is running two shifts per day. These are the same shifts as the ones of the workmen: in the morning from 7 to 12.30 and in the afternoon from 12.30 to 16. Often some things have to be cleaned up in the evening. Or there is a deadline, then he and his fellow students work through the weekend. “Last Monday the kitchen had to be installed, then you have to continue during the weekend.” In addition to Derikx, 14 students are working full time on LINQ, while the remaining 36 combine it with their studies.

Everything in the house is made to be “plug and play” in Dubai. The kitchen is placed here in the module. They take this module as a whole for transport. This way they “only” have to connected things in Dubai. That is also the case with the walls and electrical outlets. In Dubai, an electrician has to be there to sign the approval that everything is connected safely. “That is needed because about 250,000 people will walk through it. We have to be prepared.”

During the Dutch Technology Week, the apartment will be open to the public on 8th and 9th of June. After the DTW they invite schools “to continue education”. They also test in June and July whether everything is working as expected. And they put the finishing touch to the house. “Now, for example, there is only wooden plate material as a wall, but we want to replace it with biocomposite panels.” Halfway through August, the students disassemble the house and halfway September they put everything on the boat. Which arrives a month later in Dubai where they rebuild the whole. “It is four weeks of sailing and we have taken six weeks to be sure.”

Not everything runs as planned, like the storm of the past week. This caused water damage to the floor. Large orange plastic cloths must ensure that the damage to the apartment is limited. But they will certainly pick up on June 4, Derikx says. That is the official opening of LINQ.

Will they win in November? Derikx estimates the chances high. “When I look at the other projects, we have something unique. We are going to renovate an existing neighborhood where others often focus on a new neighborhood outside the city. And our design was only designed and executed by students. In other projects, you see that a professor is the founder. I am thinking of maybe a top 5 out of 20.”

But that is in November. He now mainly enjoys what happens at the construction site. “It is also incredibly and crazy how fast things are going. If you are not there for a day, then the North Wall is suddenly there. That round wall has really succeeded very well.” Derikx also really enjoys his fellow students. “Like Sanne (van der Wal red.) one of our constructors who sees that her north beam is being placed. What she had drawn, she sees arriving and being placed at the construction site. I stand there as a builder to get that north member in the right place and she coordinates me. When the beam is in place, she is so incredibly happy. Those are the best moments.”

Photo’s: Bart van Overbeeke