Cladding on the Copenhagen International School building, located in Copenhagen’s Nordhaven (the North Harbour) Quarter will generate more than half the schools annual energy needs. The 12,000 blue/green PV panels use a process of light interference developed by Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, Switzerland applied to glass with a filter that determines which wavelengths of light to be reflected as visible colour. The rest of the sunlight is absorbed by the solar panel and converted into energy, producing 300MWh of electricity for the school per year. This is an impressive figure considering Copenhagen has an yearly average of 1780 sunlight hours. Giving this figure some perspective, Melbourne, with the lowest capital city sunlight hours in Australia has 2200 and Perth with the best has 3200.   


Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation at UC Berkeley, California, 2015

Photo: Tim Griffith

Photo: Tim Griffith

Photo: Tim Griffith

Photo: Tim Griffith

Photo: Tim Griffith

Photo: Tim Griffith

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects:

Founded on the conviction that design can help address some of society’s most pressing challenges, the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation at UC Berkeley, is devoted to introducing sustainable design innovation at the center of engineering education and university life. The project was conceived by the College of Engineering as an interdisciplinary hub for students and teachers from across the university who work at the intersection of design and technology.  It is designed as both a collaborative, project-based educational space and a symbol to the region of the University’s commitment to sustainable innovation.   
The tiny corner site, formerly a volleyball court, lies at the northern edge of campus within a dense, diverse context.  Two 4-story engineering buildings border the site on the west and south. Single family residences and apartment buildings line the street to the north. An existing two-level basement lies directly beneath 35% of the site. 
The program, intended to accommodate up to 2,000 students per semester, includes flexible design studios, project rooms, support spaces and fabrication equipment rooms containing a variety of rapid prototyping tools and equipment.
The PV arrays have enabled the building to use 90% less energy than the national median for university buildings per EPA Target Finder.


The 80 kW PV system: 

Allowing the architects graceful, yet practical roof design to reach its full potential, Sungevity, the PV designers needed to match the best solar panel technology. They settled on a custom system that uses two different types of solar panels: high quality polycrystalline panels at the centre of the installation and unique double glass frameless, bifacial panels on the edges. The outer panels were supplied by Sunpreme, a company taking   PV solar installations from purely functional afterthought to visually attractive roof-top designs. The product has a wide range of urban applications, and will be an important part of a move to bringing together clean power generation with good design. 




O&O Baukunst, Germany, 2012

GALERIE UNTER STROM POTSDAM 2012 - This pavilion is a prototype for the possible use of photovoltaic technology in space-shaping architectural elements.
Wall panels measuring 4 metres high and 1 metre wide are used to form all the facades of the 35-metre-long building. The panels are held in a structural steel frame.
On the outside the photovoltaic elements are positioned behind a continuous pane of glass. On the inner face the copper bands are visible behind the glass, forming a finely articulated wall cladding. 




Completed in 2003, the Smithsonian research campus in Panama goes some way towards an ideal of “zero-impact”. Minimising energy demand, the building uses natural ventilation, double roof shading with semi translucent canopy roof, dual stage split system with individual units for specific spaces and ceiling fans throughout. The buildings 30kW BiPV roof produces approximately 75% of the buildings base energy requirements.



The Parc del Fòrum PV shade structure provides a venue for a range of large scale local events such as trade fairs and music festivals. Currently it is in the process of being fitted out as an urban adventure park "Bosc Urba", with zip-lines, nets, vines, bungee jumping and bridge challenges for all ages with the orange course for children, blue for children over 8 and a red course for the experiensed thrill seekers.

The PV roof of the shade structure, with the solar pergola will have a combined power capacity projected to be 1.3MW. 


Built in 2004, this landmark PV sculpture on the Barcelona waterfront overlooks Port Forum and the Mediterranean Sea.  Created for the "Universal Forum of Cultures" it was part of a wider rejuvenation of an area previously dominated by a sewerage treatment plant. The "pergola" structure is supported on four concrete plinths and pitched at 35 degrees with an elegantly skew,  it transforms what would otherwise be an exposed and inhospitable space the size of a football field into anther adaptable, shaded civic space.

The generation system, designed by Phönix SonnenStrom AG comprises of 2668 mono-crystalline panels rated at 444 kilowatts and is connected to the grid.

Overall design was carried out by Jose Antonio Martinez Lapena Elias Torres.  www.jamlet.net



Installed in 2003, the PV facade of the Cologne Zara boutique is stylish, eye-catching and productive. The PV panel cladding was installed by the company as an alternative to polished marble. A Spanish company, Zara is one of the worlds largest clothing and accessories retailers and is based in Arteixo, Galicia. 


Norwegian Ambassadors Residence, Kathmandu

An essential app In Kathmandu is LoadShedding. You set it to your "group" or area and it reminds you when your power is about to be cut, how long it will be cut off for, when it is about to be turned on again and how long it will be on again for. The Norwegian Ambassador won't be needing LoadShedding. The well designed PV array at the Residency provides shade for vehicles, but importantly, also makes a statement about Norway's commitment to clean energy.  

Roxbury E+ Townhouses, Boston by Interface Studio Architects

All photographs by Sam Oberter

Designed by Interface Studio Architects, the four townhouse, Roxbury E+ project, is part of the E+ Green Building Program to develop energy-positive housing in Boston.

The town-houses are of insulated timber frame construction with optimally oriented and angled, mono-pitched roofs that are suitably dimensioned to house the solar panels that produce power in excess of the needs of the occupants. The mono-pitched roof further allows for high, triple-glazing on the shaded side of the town-houses, giving energy efficient year round ambient natural daylight. 


In 2002 the US Department of Energy began the Solar Decathlon as a competition between university teams from around the world "to design, build and operate a solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy efficient, and attractive".

The winner demonstrates the best blend of: "affordability,consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency".

It is now a biennial event with the next competition in 2015 at in Irvine, California.

The success of the event led to the Spanish and US Governments creating Solar Decathlon Europe in 2007. This was followed by Solar Decathlon China in 2011 and Solar Decathlon Latin America and Caribbean to hold its first competition in 2015 at Universidad del Valle in Santiago de Cali, Columbia. This competition will focus on social housing projects tailored for tropical conditions.   

From time to time we will link a Solar Decathlon team entry in Neat Design. What firstly comes to mind in all of these student explorations, is how far they are from main stream home builder offerings. Apart from the obvious energy priorities, they are all light, open and flexible. 

The Dutch TU Delft teams 2014 Pre-a-Loger submission, brings these qualities to a sixties terrace house and finished first in Sustainability and Communication & Social Awareness, second in Energy Efficiency and Construction Management & Safety. Overall the team won third prize only three points behind the Italian team which won the first prize. 

By adding a 'second skin', including a PV glass structure on the side facing the sun the house has year round comfort and runs completely on solar energy. By modifying an old terraced house, the team demonstrated how existing housing stock can be made more comfortable and energy efficient. 

Green Dot Animo Leadership High School, Inglewood, California

500 PV panels cover a long south-facing wall of Green Dot Animo Leadership High School in Inglewood, California, near Los Angeles International Airport. The new school building cost was $15.2 million and the PV system cost was 4.5% of this. In California, Proposition 55, the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2004, covered half the system cost and provided a long-term, low interest loan for the balance. The PV power provides 75% of the schools power saving around $70,000 annually, allowing for gradual payback and lower operating costs.

The school was designed by Brooks + Scarpa Architects




 146.5kW solar array, built in 2012 is Perth’s largest solar installation. The PV array is built on a 334 foot long canopy and uses 452 SunPower panels. Funding for the project was jointly received from the Western Australian Government and the Australian Government through the Perth Solar City program.


Bullit Centre, Seattle, Washington

The design team led by Miller Hull Partnership included: Point 32, Schuchart Corporation and PAE Consulting Engineers. 

With long overcast winters, Seattle isn’t a likely location for a solar powered building. The Bullit Centre with its 570 panel, 342kW system, generates more than the building uses in the summer, sending excess electricity out to the grid. In the winter the Center draws from the grid as needed.