August 21 2014

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014: Versailles, France Explores Dwellings of the Future

Following two years of work – from the conception to the construction of the 1-to-1 scale buildings – and 17 days of exhibition and competition in the gardens of Versailles Palace, on July 12, 2014, the 800 participants of the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 competition saw the prizes of the competition awarded.

Press Release:

Organized under the aegis of the Housing Ministry with support from those of Ecology, Culture, Higher Education and Research, implemented by CSTB, the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 allowed for discovering the talent, knowhow and technical competences of 800 students, from 16 countries and 3 continents, who innovate in order to create a more moderate habitat, more respectful of natural resources, and using only solar-thermal and photovoltaic energy.

This international competition took place in the territories of the Versailles Palace with 20 full-scale habitat prototypes that prefigure housing of the future.

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, Rhome

The Italian team Rhome won first prize with one of its prototypes “Rhome for Dencity.” Both innovative and at the forefront of design, the project is anchored in the reality of Rome’s suburbs. It is in the neighborhood of the Tor Fiscale, a 30-meter tower constructed in Rome’s southeast during the Middle Ages, near the remains of ancient aqueducts.

Rhome (A Home for Rome) proposes inserting itself in a city program that foresees regenerating the neighborhood by replacing illegal habitats with ecological and performative housing, while preserving the surrounding historical heritage.

Solar Decathlong Europe 2014, Phileas

The second grand prize was awarded to the group from Nantes of the Atlantic Challenge with their project “Phileas.” It deals with the complete rehabilitation of Cap 44, an imposing industrial building, 60 meters long, constructed in 1895, which today, following different uses – from an agricultural cooperative to an office building – is repurposed. Ideally located along the Loire, in such a way, the building could become a node of urban horticulture, negotiating housing, schools and businesses.

The Dutch from Delft earned third place with their prototype, “A Home with a Skin.” The habitat in the Netherlands is made up of more than 60 percent row houses with gardens, which are often badly insulated. Rather than destroying in order to rebuild at a high financial and environmental cost, the “A Home with a Skin” project proposes applying a second skin to these homes, notably a solar greenhouse on one of the facades, while keeping the residents in their homes during the renovation work. The implemented system could be directly applied to 1.4 million dwellings built on this model.

The 10 categories of the Solar Decathlon have rewarded a number of teams that have all proposed amazing solar housing prototypes:

1. The “Communication and Social Sensitization” prize evaluates the ability of the teams to communicate the guiding principles of their projects creatively, efficiently and innovatively.

  • The Dutch team Pret-a-loger won this award with its project “A Home with a Skin.”
  • The Swiss Lucerne team finished in second place with the project “Your+.”
  • The French-Chilean team Fenix was third in line with its project “Casa Fenix.”

2. The “Urbanism, Transportation and Financial Accessibility” prize evaluates the pertinence of the proposed projects to their local market, the solutions proposed for transportation, and the cost of housing.

  • The Taiwanese team Unicode won this award with its project “Orchid House.”
  • The UNAM Team from Mexico finished in second place in this category with its project “Casa.”
  • The Barcelona team from Resso is in 3rd place with its project “Resso.”

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014, Ecofet

3. The “Architecture” prize rewarded general conception, the design, the flexibility of spaces, integrated technologies and bio-climatic strategies.

  • The winner was the Barcelona team Resso with its project “Resso.”
  • The Romans of Rhome for Dencity got second place.
  • Last, the Japanese from Chiba University were in third place with “RenaiHouse.”

4. The “Engineering and Construction” prize evaluates the overall functionality of the habitats, the structures, envelopes, electrical systems, plumbing and photovoltaics.

  • The winner was the Mexican team UNAM with its project “Casa.”
  • The “RenaiHouse” project of the team from Chiba University was second in line.
  • The Franco-Chileans of the “CasaFenix” project were third in this category.

5. The “Energy Efficiency” prize evaluates the energy consumption of the dwellings and the solutions proposed to reduce it.

  • The winner was the team from Nantes Atlantic Challenge with its project “Phileas.”
  • The Dutch team Pret-a-loger was second with its “A Home with a Skin.”
  • The Spanish team Plateau with its project “Symbcity” was tied with Taiwan’s “Orchid House.”

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014

6. The “Sustainable Development” prize judges the environmental sensitivity of the teams and appreciates the efforts provided in order to reduce the environmental impacts all along the lifecycle of the products.

  • The winner was the Dutch team Pret-a-loger with its project “A Home with a Skin.”
  • The Fenix Team, Chile-France, and its project “Casa Fenix” finished in second place.
  • Mexico’s UNAM team, tied with Atlantic Challenge, came in third place.

7. The “Innovation” prize evaluates the degree of innovation in the prototype, in particular the elements that impact its value, its yield or its performance.

  • The winner was the Barcelona team Resso with its project “Resso.”
  • Taiwan’s Unicode team came in second place in this category with its project “Orchid House.”
  • The Romans of “Rhome for Dencity” took 3rd place.

8. The “Equipment and Functionality” prize verifies the functionality and efficiency of a group of apparatuses that should conform to the demanding standards of real society.

  • The winner was the Italian team Rhome with its project “Rhome for Dencity.”
  • Following was the Swiss of the Lucerne team with its project “Your+”
  • Finally, the Nantes team Atlantic Challenge got third place with “Phileas.”

9. The “Energy Use” prize evaluates the energy use in service of the habitat’s energy self-sufficiency and its electrical efficiency.

  • The winner was the Franco-American team Reciprocite with its project “Maison Reciprocity.”
  • The project “RenaiHouse” of the Chiba University team from Japan was in second place.
  • The Franco-Chileans of the “CasaFenix” project came in third in this category.

10. The “Comfort” prize values the interior comfort of the prototype: temperature, humidity, acoustics, lighting and air quality.

  • The winner was the Swiss team Lucerne with its proect “Your+”
  • The Roman team Rhome for Dencity came in second in this category.
  • The team Inside Out, US-Germany, finished in 3rd place with “Techstyle Haus.”

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014

The “People’s Choice” prize, not part of the competition, rewarded the team that received the most votes from the general public via the website of the Solar Decathlon.

  • The “Maison Tropika,” of the Costa Rica team TEC was the public’s favourite.
  • The Thailand team KMUTT was second with its project “Adaptive House.”
  • The “Orchid House” project of the Unicode team from Taiwan came in third.

You can find further detail on how the teams did on the website:

What should be the overall goal of an event like the Solar Decathlon? How does an event like this address local problems related to sustainability?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Bora Mici

Bora Mici has a background in design and online writing. Most recently, she has worked as an online contributor for DC Mud,, and, covering urban planning and visual and performing arts in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, as well as topics related to the environment and human rights; editing and translating news articles from around the world. She has also participated in design projects of various scopes, including modular housing, design guidelines, and campus and community planning. Her interests include sustainable projects in the public interest.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2014 at 9:55 am and is filed under Architecture, Bora Mici, Education and Careers, Energy, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Environmental Non-Profit, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Housing, Landscape Architecture, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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