Students at the Delft University of Technology have developed a revolutionary new method for converting historic buildings into modern energy-saving structures. The university students developed "solar panel skins" that slide over typical post-war row homes, allowing residents to take advantage of the benefits of solar energy while preserving the look and feel of their cherished historical dwellings.
According to Delft University, approximately 60 percent of Dutch citizens live in row houses and 25 percent of those homes are from the post war period. Although beloved by the city’s population, these homes have incredibly outdated climate and spatial conditions. Many residents would like to incorporate energy saving and sustainable features to their homes, but without the inconvenience of a large renovation project that would certainly sacrifice the historic feel of the neighborhood. The Delft students’ innovative idea for solar panel skins came from the desire to protect these local historic buildings while moving their energy generation and consumption into the 21st century.
Since the post war homes obviously were not built with solar aspects like orientation and adaptation in mind, the skins’ main design approach covers the homes with a glass and photovoltaic “drape” on the predominate solar orientated side for harvesting heat and energy. Alternatively, the cold side of the skin is extra insulated to prevent heat and energy loss from within. For optimal temperature control year-round, the skins are adaptable to the seasonal temperature variations. They are meant to be closed during the winter months and in the spring and summer months, the skins open to provide indirect and direct natural ventilation.
From the outset of the design process, the students focused on creating an aesthetically pleasing structure that would provide the optimal climate performance for the houses while, at the same time, maintaining the comfort of the residents. The skin design allows the approximately two million occupied homes to be fitted with the new structures without forcing the occupants to leave their home.
In addition to providing a new source of energy for the older homes, the design is meant to focus on the quality of life for the Dutch residents. The solar skins form an extension of the home over the private gardens, which are generally an integral part of local life. The solar skins extend over the private garden area, giving residents the ability to enjoy the exterior and adding a personalized sense of well-being to the home. This also helps the residents in a number of sustainable activities for the family such as vegetable and fruit gardening and rainwater reutilization.
Via Fast Co Exist