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New wooden side facades have been developed for the building on the campus.
© UdK Berlin / VPT
Solar Decathlon Europe

Visualisation of a new residential unit as the attic floor of an old Berlin building.
© Team Rooftop Berlin

Competition building becomes a university laboratory

A team of students from Berlin University of the Arts and Technische Universität Berlin designed a net energy plus building for the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 competition. The house is now being rebuilt on the Charlottenburg campus. It is intended for use as a seminar room and laboratory in the future. After minor modifications and with additional measurement technology, the students can learn about energy monitoring with a real building as an example.

For the Solar Decathlon Europe competition, international teams of students develop and build innovative prototypes of small net energy plus residential buildings. At the end of the competition, the buildings are presented to the general public for a month at a competition site, and compete with each other in several different disciplines. However, there is one catch to the competition: while a concept is required for a subsequent use for the buildings, no specific evidence of financial support or a construction site is necessary.

From Versailles to Charlottenburg

For the Rooftop building, which was developed by a team of students from Berlin University of the Arts (UdK Berlin) and Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) for the 2014 competition in Versailles, long-term usage has now been secured. Funded by the two universities, it will be rebuilt as a pavilion on the shared college campus in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The original living room will be used as a seminar room, while the bedroom will function as a measurement and research laboratory. Christoph Nytsch-Geusen, who as professor for building services engineering at the UdK Berlin is leading the project, explains: “Several modifications are required, since Rooftop was designed as an extension floor for an old building, and not as a separate structure. The fire walls on the front sides will be replaced by timber frame structures, in which replaceable test facades, including measurement technology, are installed for monitoring purposes.”

The foundation works officially began in March 2017; in the interim, the building shell is now weatherproof. Now the complex part of the work begins: the installation of the building services and measurement technology. According to Mr. Nytsch-Geusen: “We are lucky that one member of the competition team is still working in that specialist field and can support the construction work. The other team members are following the project with great interest, however, and are also on hand to help with the details.”

The official opening is planned for the autumn. Then, long-term energy monitoring of the indoor environment, building services technology and energy balance will begin. The building will therefore become a part of the research and teaching offer at the two universities, not only spatially, but also in terms of content.

The goal: Resource-saving redensification

The concept behind Rooftop is to redesign unused attic space in typical Berlin Wilhelminian-era buildings, making them energy-efficient, modern residential units. These structures benefit from the high-up position and the existing building infrastructure. Using solar power modules, the new attic apartments produce excess energy which alongside the additional Rooftop unit can also contribute to supplying the building below. 

Facade elements that can be folded upwards are able to dose the daylight that enters the room. They automatically track the sun, or adapt to personal requirements using a smartphone app. When they are folded closed, the facade elements enclose a layer of air outside the insulating glass, which increases the thermal protection. 

The Berlin competition entry came fourth out of 20 international student teams overall, and was ranked third in the individual “architectural design” class. 



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The building on Instagram

Team Rooftop
Website of the Rooftop competition team

Solar Decathlon Europe
Competition website 

Versailles 2014
Details on the Solar Decathlon 2014 in Versailles


Urban estate concept beats the competition
BINE News from 16/07/2014 on the competition results 

Modular roof pavilion with solar active facade
BINE News from 02/06/2014 on the construction phase