The Solar Decathlon is an international competition. In order to win, students from universities around the globe have to design and build the best life-size scale, fully operational, solar-powered pavilion. This solar housing unit should be affordable, comfortable, and attractive and it should showcase technological innovations for a more sustainable lifestyle. It should also make at least as much energy as it consumes and should limit its impact on the grid.
The Solar Decathlon is currently the most comprehensive competition about human habitat as it involves urban planning, architecture, technology, social uses and affordability of a housing project located in a dense urban environment. It serves, in a way, as the Olympics of Architecture and Engineering for Sustainable Cities and Green Buildings.
It involves working in a multidisciplinary team: planners, architects, civil engineers, engineers in energy management and building physics, environmental engineers, lighting designers, interior designers, graphic designers and videographers, communication specialists, economists and managers of the urban works and construction sites, sociologists specialized in the urban and housing issues, product manufacturers and builders all need to work together from the beginning. This experience of collective design and construction involves breaking down disciplinary barriers and creating a common culture to all team members regardless of scientific background and technical knowledge in order to develop the project while taking into account the maximum number of determinant factors imposed by the context in which it takes place.
The construction of the prototype by the students themselves, with the advice of professionals, gives this experience a hands-on educational dimension that can become the foundation of an innovative professional approach : a process of co-creation of the home and cities of the future.
The Swiss Team was made up by students from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR), the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR). Their project for the Solar Decathlon 2017 competition, that took place in Denver Colorado USA, was called the “Swiss Living Challenge“. The solar prototype has been built in the smart living lab‘s Experimentations Hall.
Video of the Solar Decathlon 2017: