Solar Decathlon Europe 2012
Solar Decathlon Europe is an international competition among universities, which promotes research in the development of efficient houses. The objective of the participating teams is to design and build houses that consume as few natural resources as possible and produce minimum waste products during their life cycle. Particular emphasis is put on reducing energy consumption and on obtaining all the necessary energy from the sun. The edition of 2012 took place in Madrid and gathered 18 proposals from 11 countries from around the world, most of which came from Europe (Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Romania) and more from China, Japan, and Brazil.
The Technical University of Denmark participated in the Solar Decathlon Europe competition for the first time in 2012. The team of students supported by the faculty and the industry partners developed the plus-energy house FOLD. It was first constructed at the campus of the Technical University of Denmark in spring semester 2012 and then disassembled and brought to the competition in Madrid in September 2012. The team is proud to have received the award for the Solar Systems Integration. The jury highlighted the “highly effective and innovative integration of PV and thermal systems that is not only a machine added to a house, but added value without creating too much attention to that machinery”. “Technically well-thought, smart, efficient and cost-effective combination of passive house principles and active elements” – this is how the jury described FOLD.
FOLD is naive… and realistic.
It believes in the utopia of a greener world. A world of responsibility. For the nature AND for the culture. Culture is the utmost offspring from nature. And like every responsible parent nature EMBRACES culture. It provides it with its resources. To benefit the most from nature culture has to TUNE into the premises of nature. Adapt. Adjust. Reenact. Play with its parental heritage. Growing up, learning from the nature and developing beyond it makes it a strong person. A responsible person. Sometimes an annoying overachiever. But when it comes down to basic value it always keeps its head cold and remembers its childhood learning: always SHARE the good stuff with your friends.
The concept of FOLD is a three step strategy: The local plot folds itself around the family to protect it and provide it with local natural resources.
Climatic conditions change according to your geographical whereabouts. But one thing is common: The sun is the greatest energy source of all. It defines the natural resources of the plot. These resources differ depending on the geographical context, and when creating a shelter the designer embraces both solar, biological, economical, ecological and cultural resources of the plot. The shelter is created by folding the plot with all its implemented resources as a protective membrane around the family.
FOLD can take on countless configurations. The size, inclination and orientation of the different surfaces are adjusted to the site specific resources. All surfaces are optimized to a function optimal for the specific context. In Madrid the optimal surface functions are photovoltaics on the roof for renewable energy production, vegetation for the urban microclimate and urban light to increase the security of the urban space.
Sustainable living is a collective mindset that engages everybody. It demands responsibility and awareness. The society is a delicate organism, and everybody is a crucial part of the sustainable project. This project is all about how we manage the resources. And the only sensible thing is to allocate surplus resources to places of less resources. Establishing a solar democracy like this addresses all three aspects of the general sustainability concept: Economy, society and environment.
FOLD believes in both inspiring architecture and high energy performance – and it believes that these to primary visions are not contradictory. Actually the architectural narrative can be translated directly into the method applied to obtain the optimal energy balance of the house: The REDUCE – OPTIMIZE – PRODUCE triangle.
The triangle is a three-step method to reduce the energy consumption of a house. The method was developed within the frame of a ph.d. programme, which was finalized in the spring of 2012. The programme was a joint venture between The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Henning Larsen Architects in Copenhagen, Denmark. The method describes the three steps necessary to create low energy consumption buildings – or energy-plus houses as FOLD is. It is developed with Integrated Energy Design (IED) as its starting point.
The three steps follow a hierarchical structure:
• REDUCE: The first step is to reduce energy consumption by limiting unwanted heat loss and gain by means of improved geometry and the transparency of the building envelope.
• OPTIMIZE: Then we optimize the necessary systems. This might be cause additional cost on the building budget – but the operating costs will be significantly minimized.
• PRODUCE: Finally, the building achieves net zero energy by building integrated energy production methods.
The architectural narrative of EMBRACING – TUNING – SHARING is developed from these three steps and by that it incorporates the energy design as a core of the architectural design. Team DTU understands architecture as an umbrella concept, which it only successfully carried out, if all aspects of the sustainability concept is addressed.
EMBRACE equals REDUCE
EMBRACING the local resources and incorporating them in the surfaces of FOLD requires an analysis of societal, environmental and economic conditions of the building plot. The geometry of FOLD responds to these conditions. A similar analysis is made with regards to the energy design: The climatic conditions of the plot outlines the optimal geometry, orientation, daylight conditions etc. for reducing the energy consumption.
TUNE equals OPTIMIZE
TUNING FOLD to fit the specific plot is for architecture, what OPTIMIZE is for the energy design. TUNE increases the architectural value of the local resources, while OPTIMIZE is a concrete action taken with regards to components and installations.
SHARE equals PRODUCE
With the SHARE dimension of FOLD a principle of SOLAR DEMOCRACY is established. This dimension is worthless without the PRODUCING strategies of the method triangle. The PRODUCING part of the energy design enables the SHARE dimension of the architectural narrative.
Thus the architectural narrative is a poetic story about how we create a sustainable living on a larger scale – but it is also the story about turning the large-scale vision into feasible results.
Here you can download the postcards about FOLD to learn more about the project! The postcards are divided according to interest groups – see which fits you best or just browse all of them
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