After architect, Rolf Disch, built the Heliotrope (the first building in the world to capture more energy than it uses) he set his sights higher.
He successfully created a retail, commercial and residential space called Sonnenschiff, translating to “Solar Ship,” that was energy net-positive in 2004. The building was a hit, and over the following years 60 more residential buildings have been constructed surrounding the solar ship, all with energy positive electrical systems. Today the village, dubbed Solarsiedlung (Solar Village), is producing 4x more energy than it consumes.
Solarsiedlung is located in Freidburg, Germany, which is known as the ecological capital of the country. It is the home of Europe’s largest solar research center.
Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org
The project started out as a vision for an entire community — the medium-density project balances size, accessibility, green space, and solar exposure. In all, 52 homes make up a neighborhood anchored to Sonnenschiff, a mixed-use residential and commercial building that emphasizes livability with a minimal footprint. Advanced technologies like phase-change materials and vacuum insulation significantly boost the thermal performance of the building’s wall system.
The homes are designed to the Passivhaus standard and have great access to passive solar heating and daylight. Each home features a very simple shed roof with deep overhangs that allows winter sun in while shading the building from the summer sun. The penthouses on top of the Sonnenschiff have access to rooftop gardens that make full use of the site’s solar resources. The rooftops featurerainwater recycling systems that irrigate the gardens and while supplying the toilets with greywater. The buildings also make use of wood chip boilers for heat in the winter, further decreasing their environmental footprint.
The project’s simple envelope design is brightened by a colorful and dynamic façade. Gardens and paths cross through the development as well, linking the inhabitants. Offices and stores expand the livability of the community while contributing a sense of communal purpose.