The minute we entered Team Rhône-Alpes' modular Canopea House, we were dazzled by its beautiful crown of soft dappled light, and it turns out we were not the only ones impressed by the spectacular design. The Canopea currently holds first place in this year's competition, boasting a cumulative score of 800.32, with top honors in the coveted Architecture and Operations prizes. Topped with a 10,7 kW array of photovoltaic panels that produce more than enough energy for both floors, this inviting green space also offers natural ventilation, a place to relax, and even a common laundry. Once the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe competition is complete, the team from France have even bigger ambitions to create whole "nanotowers" comprised of several Canopea homes.
Both vertical and horizontal stacks of Canopea homes can produce nanotowers that respond to the dearth of urban space in France. Each level is a fairly spacious, complete home, and only the very top is crowned with the louvered canopy of solar-panels. In this setting, the PV array won’t generate enough energy for an entire column, but it will get close, and the program’s overall energy efficiency will reduce how much power is necessary.
Organized by a smart grid that oversees heating, cooling, mobility, services and social networks, the nanotowers are designed to become completely integrated in the city. Gardens, storage boxes and a recycling system help to keep the focus on the environment and sustainability, while an outdoor terrace helps to expand the interior space. Team Rhône-Alpes has been on task every step of the way, but the competition is steep. Stay tuned as we continue to report live from the Villa Solar in Madrid.