While the heat wave was sweeping Europe, they worked hard to build the ecological houses of the future with recycled materials, green facades, solar panels: rarely competition of sustainable architecture has flirted so closely with the emergency climate.
The Solar Decathlon is an international university competition, where students compete in architecture, engineering and urbanism. Their challenge is to build in two weeks a prototype of functional habitat, with the sun as the sole source of energy.
The competition takes place every two to three years and it is in the Budapest countryside, in the heat of a month of July that saw the fall of the temperature records in Europe, that the competitors clashed for the edition 2019 which ends Sunday.
A housing prototype built by students from the Lille National School of Architecture and Landscape is exhibited at the Solar Decathlon on July 25, 2019 in Szentendre, Hungary (AFP – ATTILA KISBENEDEK)
“We were able to create in complete freedom, without having a client on the back, which is rare in our profession!” rejoices Gheorghe Ciobanu, a young Romanian architect, tired but happy. The 500 competitors of about twenty years, from 13 countries, competed with imagination to reconcile energy efficiency, comfort, aesthetics, quality … and seduce the jury.
For this 4th edition held in a park of the Technical University of Szentendre, it was “to present a project related to the renovation of an existing habitat,” said Louise Holloway, director of the Dutch Energy Endeavor Foundation, which oversees competition sponsored by private companies and public bodies.
– Sheep wool filters –
The cube-shaped wooden house of the Romanian team, where the shower water is recycled and where the fan filters are made of sheep wool, is thus designed to be installed on a roof of public housing.
“The majority of Romanians live in this type of housing, and to make themselves bigger, they build balconies themselves, which is illegal and dangerous, and a roof can accommodate six of our houses,” says Gheorghe Ciobanu.
A Spanish student shows the prototype built by the University of Seville (AFP – ATTILA KISBENEDEK)
Coming from the north of France, the “Habiter 2030” team has redesigned the terraced house typical of this region, a real energy sieve. “We used a minimum of technology, and a maximum of sustainable and bio-sourced materials,” said Philippe Bouleau, one of the participants.
No plastic in this small building: the structure is wood and mud brick, exterior facades of lime and hemp that isolate and absorb carbon dioxide. “On the interior walls, we put plaster made of clay, water and sand, a good insulation, easy to do yourself,” says the student Camille Huguet.
The solar panels were designed so that the house also heats that of the neighbors, in order to pool expenses. “It's not just an architectural object, it's a social project, the objective is to fight the fuel poverty that affects one in five people in the Hauts-de-France,” Jocelyn Gac summarizes. of some 100 companions in duty who participated in the construction.
– From prototype to order –
The team from the University of Delft (Netherlands) imagined transforming the offices of a Rotterdam tower into an apartment. A set of wood and chipboard partitions that fit into the existing structure like a hermit crab in a shell.
By collecting and recycling water, “this apartment produces more clean water than it consumes”, proudly highlights Okan Turkcan, 24, project leader.
Equally rooted in social reality, the project of the University of Seville: a set of tarpaulin cubes connected by metal beams. This structure is designed to staple on the facade of a building.
“In Seville, some of the public housing units are so dilapidated that the lifts are no longer working, and the older residents who live on the upper floors can not get out.” An elevator could be installed in this structure, which also has the advantage of isolating the HLM from the heat and to offer additional spaces to the inhabitants “explains Rocio Curto, student in architecture.
Some projects will have a life after the contest. “We are going to put our prototype back in Barcelona and it will become a neighborhood house” designed to involve the inhabitants in the energy transition, “says Xavier Ruiz from the Technical University of Del Vallès (Catalonia).
In Lille, the “Habiter 2030” project appealed to local authorities and should lead to the renovation of a series of houses in the northern metropolis.