The Solar Decathlon (SD) is an international academic competition promoted by the United States Department of Energy. The first edition was held in 2002 and since then it has been celebrated biannually.
The objectives of the competition are based on research, innovation, design and the subsequent construction of housing prototypes that are self-sufficient and liveable, with solar energy being the main focus. The competition however, is set up in a way in which the study and research of the limits of sustainability and efficiency are the main pillars in the framework of architecture, engineering and construction.
Linking this prototype with a viable urban project, the competition addresses the current global ecological challenges.
The Solar Decathlon Europe began in 2007 thanks to a bilateral agreement between the United States and the government of Spain, whom agreed to host the competition for the next two editions: 2010 and 2012, in Madrid. The 2014 edition moved to Versailles, Paris.
The Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallés (ETSAV) took part in the first edition of the Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 with the Low3 project which focuses on three paradigms: Low Impact, Low Cost and Low Energy.
Thanks to its high conceptual level, its refined finish and its firm commitment to sustainability and the environment, the Low3 project was awarded the 1st Prize in Architecture, awarded by three architects recognized in the architectural field: Glenn Murcutt, Louisa Hutton and Patxi Mangado.
The project was developed by a multidisciplinary team of students with the collaboration of other universities and research groups from various fields.
The agreements with private companies, entities of the public administration and other organisms were also essential in reaching the final result. This structure was also the basis of the project (e)co, ETSAV’s prototype presented in the 2012 edition in Madrid.
In the 2012 edition of the Solar Decathlon, the ETSAV team presented the project (e)co. This project defined sustainability as the balance between social, economic and environmental spheres through cooperation between different groups of people. These groups were formed by, among others, companies, architects, engineers and students from fields such as communication, marketing and biology.
The prototype follows some very ambitious lines of research, such as low cost, reduced energy demand through passive systems and minimal environmental impact.
The impact of the project (e)co on the media, surpassed what had been achieved in the previous edition of Solar Decathlon, where it appeared in the main media outlets in Spain. This denoted a line of improvement and the greater impact of the projects developed at ETSAV.
The Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 edition took place in Versailles. The participation of the ETSAV team went beyond the competition.
Ressò is a strategy for urban, social and energy rehabilitation, as well as a pedagogical tool. Once the contest was over, the Ressò prototype moved to the District of Sant Muç (Rubí). It now offers a meeting space for neighbors, where they can collectively share resources, and perform activities in a comfortable space.
The group researches and works through the method of “Learning by Doing” and proposes the integration of practical work into school curriculum. Self-management and creation of proposals, research and participation are complemented by the tools offered by the UPC.
The project received two first prizes, an honorable mention and the 2014 Solar Prize.