The 20 teams of students in this year's Solar Decathlon Europe have been anxiously awaiting the results of the Energy Efficiency contest - and the winner was just announced! The most efficient sun-powered project in this year's competition is… Team Atlantic Challenge's Solar Philéas! Normally students create tiny stand-alone homes that redefine green living, but this year the Atlantic Challenge Team, based in France, did something entirely different. Solar Philéas seeks to rehabilitate an existing building in the Bas-Chantenay district in Nantes by developing apartments within the building. The self-sufficient modules can be altered as the owners' lives grow and change, while still honoring the existing social fabric of the neighborhood.
The Cap 44 building is part of the city’s heritage as one of the first reinforced concrete buildings in the world; a style that was later copied in thousands of buildings around the globe. The Atlantic Team wanted to fight against urban sprawl by reusing the structure to create new living spaces vertically rather than spreading further out into the neighborhood. In order to modernize the building, the team added longitudinal and transverse “cracks” to the building to let in natural light; a greenhouse with solar panels to the roof; and they will create a nearby urban farm to support local food production.
Each apartment unit will be situated to take advantage of thermal and structural characteristics inside the building and the outdated thermal envelope will be brought up to modern standards. Finally, prefabricated modules will be plugged into the upper floors, which can be moved and shifted around later on as needed. In order to demonstrate the concept, the team built a prototype apartment at the Decathlon’s Versailles location, which was unveiled on June 27th. The prototype consists of a top floor apartment with a plug-in module, along with part of the greenhouse, with over 750 square feet of living space.