One thing that you’ll immediately notice while walking around the solar decathlon event in Washington is how pretty much every house features a sloped roof of some sort. Some, tend to feature it less than others, by making it part of the buildings volume, or by building the roof out of lighter materials, thus disguising that throughout the building. On the other hand, you get entries like the one from the students at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, where the students decided to make their roof a striking element in their design, and thus turning their entry into one of the most original houses in this years solar decathlon.
It is not the only thing that they are proud of. “The points of view from so many countries brought out the best in everyone and inspired everyone to work harder,” says Maria Perez, an architecture student from the university and one of the participants in the contest. Indeed, this years entry from this University might be remembered for being one of the most diverse in the competition, with participants from countries as diverse as Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, as well as the Spanish participants.
So what makes Madrid’s entry interesting in this year’s tight Solar Decthlon competition? The colorful Madrid house is essentially a boxed residence, configured to have its openable elements face south in order to get good solar access. The roof is covered in photovoltaic solar panels which will provide electricity to do all of the required activities that the competition entails (remember, not only does the house have to obtain its energy from the sun, they must also provide electricity for other activities).
But, after all, the solar decathlon is not only about getting energy from the sun, it is also about finding ways to conserve and reduce the energy required by the residence. To do this, the team has created a house with a double envelope to allow for proper insulation, solid state lighting (LED lights), Phase-changing gels in the foundation for thermal control, Electrochromic windows, which darken or light up as necessary, environmentally friendly materials, and a stunning living wall on the outside of the building which provides insulation (as well as a nice bit of greenery).
“Our objectives are to demonstrate innovation in energy efficiency that is applicable to single- and multi-family homes, develop a prototype for commercial manufacturing, and advance the social conscience on sustainability and the environment,” says Professor Sergio Vega. And they intend to! As part of the teams social mission, they plan on taking their residence on the road to explain to people what the benefits of Solar power and environmentally friendly construction are.
3rd Place in Architecture Competition!
The Decathlon has just begun, but already, Madrid is turning heads and catching the judges attention, as it took 3rd prize in the architecture competition yesterday (Germany took first prize). Congratulations Madrid!