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Form follows function for Barcelona's Solar House 2.0

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May 22, 2012

It's rare to see a building's form so adapted to maximizing renewable energy potential as ...

It's rare to see a building's form so adapted to maximizing renewable energy potential as is the case with the Endesa Pavilion, Solar House 2.0

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It's rare to see a building's form so adapted to maximizing renewable energy potential as is the case with the Endesa Pavilion, Solar House 2.0. Not content with a roof completely covered in photovoltaic panels, the designers at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) led by Rodrigo Rubio have covered the building's south facade with protrusions supporting additional solar panels, which are angled optimally for harvesting energy from the sun.

In a neat twist the same protrusions act as solar barriers during summer when the sun tracks a higher course across the sky, but let sunlight directly in during winter. In this way solar heat gain is limited to the times of year when it's desirable. It's this interplay between maximizing PV gain, blocking solar penetration in summer but allowing it in winter that accounts for the south facade's diverse features: features which were generated by specialized software having been fed all of the geographic parameters.

Software was also intimately involved in the building's fabrication. A computer numerical control (CNC) wood router was used to fabricated pieces from the buildings CAD design data in a process similar to 3D printing, as seen in the WikiHouse we looked at recently.

A computer numerical control (CNC) wood router was used to fabricated pieces from the buil...

The 154 sq m (1,658 sq ft) building was commissioned by energy company Endesa, and forms a public information center and "control center" for the Smart City Expo.

As for the productivity of the solar cells, we tracked down a clue on Endesa's website, which refers to "an average daily consumption of 20 kWh and an estimated output of 100 kWh." One interpretation for this is that on average the building generates 100 kWh of electricity but only uses 20 kWh, and consider that there is in the order of 150 sq m of photovoltaics on the roof alone, this doesn't seem beyond the realms of the possible.

The building itself is made almost entirely from wood, which the IAAC suggests is fitting for a building nicknamed Solar House 2.0. "We built a solar house with solar material," the IAAC writes on its blog. "Wood is a living material that grows in the sun. It is an inexhaustible material produced in culture. Is a soft, accessible, easy to work, adapt and join. It’s a warm material, which provides high thermal insulation."

The building stands at Barcelona's Moll de la Marina and will open to the public for Smart City Barcelona, taking place this coming November.

Sources: IAAC, Endesa, via Inhabitat

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
4 Comments

Brilliantly simple and asthetically interesting.

Why hasn't this been built before!

The Stav
22nd May, 2012 @ 07:27 pm PDT

If you look at image #6 you will see that some of the projections are casting shadows on the adjacent solar panels, so the projections are not really "angled optimally for harvesting energy from the sun." I wonder what the form would look like if that statement were true. Beware of architects' self-serving explanations of their designs.

Strauski
23rd May, 2012 @ 03:27 am PDT

I am amazed to see how much energy and money people can spend in the name of Green. This structure is hideous. Also the makers of the solar panels might have given the dimensions to the architects. Several of the "Protrusions" (good name) have one panel but with so much extra room that if they changed the size slightly they could have put on another doubling that protrusions output. They also waste tons of wood paneling over what could have been just a strut on under each end of each protrusion holding it up. Then inside the building the supports of the protrusions block the view because they are paneled over rather than using just a support at each end. Finally the pieces were made with a CNC machine. What a waste of technology. Nothing in that structure couldn't be done by a modest carpenter with a skill saw. They were forcing technology into the project even though it wasn't needed.

DrMarty

DrMarty
23rd May, 2012 @ 12:50 pm PDT

Unlike «DrMarty», I don't find the structure hideous. And the statement that «[n]othing in that structure couldn't be done by a modest carpenter with a skill saw» is, to my mind, merely frivolous. But I do feel the article should have addressed the question of how much it cost to build it - after all, the chances of its being emulated are very much dependent - as they should be -upon costs...

mhenriday
25th May, 2012 @ 01:51 am PDT
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