Architect Rolf Disch built the Heliotrope (the first building in the world to capture more energy than it uses). He then set his sights higher: ‘All aboard the “Sonnenschiff”!’. The solar ship is an urban redevelopment district that converted an old French army barracks outside Freiburg, Germany into 100% solar-powered retail, office, and living spaces.
Freiburg’s Sonnenschiff (solar ship) and Solarsiedlung (solar village) are part of a self-sustaining settlement that uses smart solar design along with a multitude of photovoltaic panels pointed in the direction of the sun. The solar village became energy net-positive in 2004.
All rooves are covered with standard large photovoltaic panels that are smartly integrated onto the south facing rooves of the different buildings. The technology is nothing new, the PV panels are just the standard ones, the rooves are angled to face South, it’s not rocket science! It’s simply smart! It’s largely due to the personality and persistence of architect Rolf Disc to realise an Energy-Surplus-House® and then to scale this up to a whole village. Today the village is producing four times more energy than it consumes.
Willpower and support are key in the switch to renewable energy.
The Sonnenschiff (Solar Ship) and Solarsiedlung (Solar Village) put major emphasis on power production through a series of large rooftop solar arrays that double as sun shades. What makes the Sonnenschiff and Solarsiedlung unique is the fact it was designed with solar energy as a primary factor. Usually, solar energy projects for city and/or town energy plans come as an afterthought after the city or town is built. They were specifically designed and built to be a solar city, balancing size, accessibility, green space, and solar exposure. Fifty-two homes make up the residential area along with commercial buildings emphasizing livability with a minimal footprint. Phase-change materials and vacuum insulation are also incorporated to boost the thermal performance of the Sonnenschiff and Solarsiedlung’s wall system.