Solar Decathlon Europe 2014

The Solar Decathlon began as an initiative from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2002 to demonstrate the applicability, feasibility and quality of solar technology for the housing industry by designing and building a zero-energy house. It is a competition between universities from around the world which can be described as a combination between a building fair and the Olympics! The competition proved so successful that, over the past decade, it has expanded to Europe and Asia.

Prêt-à-Loger is competing at Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, which will take place in Versailles this summer. With over 300,000 visitors, this is an incredible opportunity for companies, students and universities to showcase their know-how and products on the world stage.

The plot design

The ideal solution would be to literally bring a real house from the Netherlands and apply the Skin on it in Versailles. Because of the limited feasibility and the strict requirements of the competition, a compromise is made for a representation of the existing house. Nevertheless, the Skin system and its application is exactly the same as in the concept.

The house is part of a bigger street of row houses. We made a ‘cutout’ of the street, building one house, but showing there are more. The house, including the garden, is lifted from the level of the plot by 850 mm, and turned in the actual orientation of the reverence street in Honselersdijk. The ‘blueprint’ (floor plan) of the neighboring houses will be sprayed on the rest of the plot, in order to show how the street of houses would normally continue.

The ramps, that are used as our waiting lines, are placed along the ‘cut out’ sections of the house decorated as a slice of an original home. Furthermore, in this space there will also be posters explaining the concept.

The 10 Contests
The Decathlon is based on a careful evaluation of 10 contests with a total of 1000 points. The prototypes are open to the public and evaluated by a jury of experts, all from their specifically related fields.

The 10 contests are as follows:

assess design coherence, flexibility & maximization of space, technologies and bioclimatic strategies.
evaluate the functionality and efficiency of a set of appliances that must comply with the demanding standards of present-day society.
evaluate functionality of the house structure, envelope, electricity, plumbing and solar system.
assess the team’s capacity to find creative, effective and efficient ways of transmitting ideas that define the teams’ and projects’ own identity.
consider excellence in systems and house design, while looking for reduction of energy consumption.
evaluate the relevance of the housing unit’s grouping proposal and regional positioning, with regard for social and urban contexts of the project.
measure the houses’ electrical energy self-sufficiency and efficiency and assessment of their energy balance.
estimate the innovative aspects of houses in preceding contests, focusing on changes that impact value, performance or efficiency.
consider the capacity for providing interior comfort through the control of temperature, humidity, acoustic, lighting and quality of interior air.
measure the team’s reactivity to environmental issues, including its efforts to attain a maximum reduction of negative environmental impact.
The Brief
For this edition, the SD Organization emphasizes six specific points, all of which are intended to address the fundamentals of ecological energy transitions:

DENSITY – Density is needed to minimize environmental impacts. Collective housing projects are encouraged rather than individual houses.
SOBRIETY – While it is important to ensure a renewable energy supply, it is even more important to limit demand.
AFFORDABILITY – Teams should keep in mind that affordability remains the key issue for applicable sustainable architectural and urban solutions.
MOBILITY – The Solar Decathlon Europe aims to be a testing ground for innovative solutions merging urban design, housing and transportation systems.
INNOVATION – Innovation remains at the heart of the Competition, covering fundamentals from architecture to house appliances.
LOCAL CONTEXT – Each project must be a quality response to the cultural, climatic and social contexts of each team’s region.
For further information visit the official SDE 2014 website here