Form follows function for Barcelona's Solar House 2.0
May 22, 2012
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.
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.