The “Solar Decathlon”, organized by the US Department of Energy, is a prestigious student competition that challenges participants to develop energy-efficient homes. The task was to plan and build a house powered purely by solar energy.

In 2007, TU Darmstadt was the only German representative to develop a Plus-Energy-House in timber frame construction, and emerged as the winner of this internationally renowned competition.  The building was designed to combine aesthetics and living comfort with energy efficiency.

All external walls, the roof and the windows are highly thermally insulating.  Heat accumulators in the form of phase change materials ensure a balanced room climate.  Modern housing technology minimizes energy requirements. Just to name one of the innovative examples: A new type of lamella facade, which provides shade and privacy protection, generates electricity via integrated photovoltaic elements.  The electricity not used by the building is fed into the grid.  Cooling and heating takes place via a reversible heat pump.  Flat collectors are also integrated into the roof to generate hot water.

Due to the long transport distance and the short installation time on site, the planning team, which included Frankfurt Office Lead and Partner, Jochen Stahl, decided on a modular design. The building essentially consists of three room cells of the same size, each consisting of a platform, a bracing wall and a roof. The roof is supported by the wall and very slender columns, which also serve as stability during transportation. All non-structural components were already integrated into the structure of the modules before assembly.

Project Essentials

  • LocationWashington D.C, USA
  • ClientTU Darmstadt
  • ArchitectTU Darmstadt, FB Architektur Prof. Manfred Hegger
  • Size861 ft² (80 m²)
  • Budget€0.1 million