Although net-zero projects have been creating a lot of buzz lately in the field of green building, the Sonnenschiff solar city in Freiburg, Germany is very much net positive. The self-sustaining city accomplishes this feat through smart solar design and lots and lots of photovoltaic panels pointed in the right direction. It seems like a simple strategy -- but designers often incorporate solar installations as an afterthought, or worse, as a label.
The Solar Settlement in Freiburg Schlierberg is the answer to three questions. What is ecological, solar and energy technically feasible? What is aesthetically pleasing and desirable in urban development? And what is economically realistic? The questions were answered, and the innovativeness of the design idea was immediately recognized. The settlement became a project of the EXPO 2000. The Solar Settlement is an ensemble of bright color of terraced houses and one commercial building, the Sun Ship. At 11,000 m2, nine penthouses distribute 59 houses, of which the roof of the Sun Ship. The individual houses have 75-167 m2, all the houses together over 7,850 m2 of living space. All designed as energy-plus houses, they produce more energy than they consume - and the extra income far outweigh the low labor costs. All the houses are built using wood and with consistently healthy building materials, all have a large roof photovoltaic modules. The color scheme was designed by Berlin artist Erich Wiesner. The site remains car-free - thanks to a car park under the sun ship and a well-organized car-sharing system.
The project started out as a vision for an entire community — the medium-density project balances size, accessibility, green space, and solar exposure. In all, 52 homes make up a neighborhood anchored to Sonnenschiff, a mixed-use residential and commercial building that emphasizes livability with a minimal footprint. Advanced technologies like phase-change materials and vacuum insulation significantly boost the thermal performance of the building’s wall system.
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