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The trophies for Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 await the award winners.
© SDEurope
Winner at Solar Decathlon Europe 2012

A complete apartment can be housed on each floor of the building designed by the winning team. The “Nanotower” from the Rhône Alpes team from Grenoble can be stacked upwards or downwards in accordance with requirements. The team showed a two-storey version in Madrid.
© SDEurope

The house from Team Ecolar from Constance won fourth place and impressed with clear lines, crisply designed facades and its modularity.
© SDEurope

The house from the Aachen team achieved fifth place in the overall evaluation and its furnishings won first place in the interior design and lighting design categories.
© SDEurope

Nanotower tops CD facade and modular construction

Last Saturday saw the conclusion and climax of the international university competition “Solar Decathlon Europe 2012”. The aim of the competition was to design an energy efficient and innovative house that generates more energy via solar active surfaces than it actually needs. From the 18 university teams taking part, the Rhône Alpes team from Grenoble managed to win the most points. The German teams from Constance and Aachen were ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

The tension rose again during the concluding award ceremony, since the prizes in four of the ten competition disciplines were not announced until right at the end. The large hall in the Pabellón XII exhibition pavilion located directly alongside Villa Solar, the competition site in the heart of Madrid, was packed to the rafters. More than 400 “decathletes” keenly followed the announcement of the final scores, until finally the overall winner was revealed.

The winner is ...

The Rhône Alpes team managed to garner the most points and thus first place with its “Canopea” building concept. Canopea stands for a concept that is designed to be stackable in the urban context. A complete apartment can be housed on each floor of the “Nanotower”. The height of the tower can be increased or reduced in accordance with requirements. The top floor is available to all residents. For example, in addition to a laundry area there is also a rooftop garden with a solar-active roof and a summer kitchen. Because of the competition requirements, the Rhône Alpes team only showed a Nanotower with two storeys in Madrid. Because of its rather unique interpretation of the competition requirements for Solar Decathlon Europe, there was a certain amount of controversy surrounding the house concept during the competition. Nevertheless, the building managed to convince in ten disciplines. The French Rhône Alpes team won first prize for the architecture, comfort conditions, functioning of the house and innovation as well as second prize for communications and market viability.

“This year most of the competition entries are of an extremely high quality,” confirms Professor Manfred Hegger, a member of the jury for assessing the sustainability and President of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). So it is no surprise that there were thoroughly exciting projects in the rest of the rankings: the Ecolar team from HTWG Constance were ranked fourth and the Counter Entropy team from RWTH Aachen managed to achieve fifth place in the overall competition.

“Change your life, change your house”

That is the motto for the house concept from Team Ecolar from Constance. Most of the components for this house were able to be prefabricated with considerable preciseness and in series. This facilitates installation and reduces the manufacturing costs, enabling materials, money and time to be efficiently deployed. The simple, crisply designed house also has a modular structure, which enables it to be expanded or reduced in size and provides considerable flexibility in terms of its form. This also applies to using the building, since the house can be adapted relatively easily or converted. The Constance team managed to win two first prizes in the “engineering and construction” and “market viability” categories. It also won third prize for energy efficiency and two fourth prizes for the architecture and the functioning of the house during operation.

“Rethink. Reuse. Recycle.”

With its house project, the Counter Entropy team at RWTH Aachen wants to create a new understanding for energy efficient construction, whereby natural resources should be used sparingly during the construction, use and dismantling. The reuse and recycling of construction materials and components were guiding principles during the planning. The fact that so much ecological ambition can also be beautiful is shown by the photos of the building and the prizes won during the competition: the team managed to win two first prizes for “interior design” and “lighting design”, it also won second prize in the “architecture” category, three third prizes in the “communication and raising social awareness”, “market viability” and “sustainability” categories as well as fourth prize with an honourable mention in the “energy efficiency” category.

The next Solar Decathlon Europe competition is being held in Paris in 2014.



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