Organized by the US Department of Energy, the “Solar Decathlon” is a prestigious student competition that challenges participants to develop energy-efficient homes. In 2009, teams were tasked with building an energy, self-efficient building for 2015.


Project Essentials

  • LocationWashington D.C., USA
  • ClientTU Darmstadt
  • ArchitectTU Darmstadt, FB Architektur Prof. Manfred Hegger
  • Size861 ft² (80 m²)

The Technische Universität Darmstadt team, which included Fast + Epp Partner and Frankfurt Office Lead, Jochen Stahl, was successfully able to defend its title from the 2007 competition. Named, the “surPLUShome”, the team was able to achieve a balance of energy saving, energy efficiency and solar energy generation in the home.

The building envelope in passive house standards ensured low energy losses, while achieving high levels of comfort. The photovoltaic elements integrated into the building envelope provide the necessary energy, while the façade includes a self-developed system of photovoltaic shingles, maximizing energy gain and giving the house a unique character.

In order to meet the high demands for modularity, low weight and transportability, the house was built in wood construction, consisting of a combination of light wood frame and mass timber box elements. The building had to be split into four modules for transport, divided along the horizontal and vertical axes.

To prevent buckling, steel blades reinforced the main columns beyond the module boundaries. Due to the module division, the roof spans approximately 10 metres without additional interior columns.