Desing Challenge

Solar Decathlon Europe 2021/2022

The main feature of the 2021/2022 edition of Solar Decathlon Europe is that the competition takes on an urban character, challenging students to develop solutions to current urban issues. For this first phase of the project we had to design a complete building proposal from which we would later extract the prototype that we will build for the competition.

Urban situations

The three urban situations that the competition proposed were those of renovation and extension, both horizontal and vertical, and new construction between party walls. After analysing the current situation of the different neighbourhoods of the city of Valencia, Cabanyal stood out from the rest for the possibility of making a proposal adapted to a real problem, the amount of vacant lots throughout the neighbourhood.

Horizontal renovation and extension

Vertical renovation and extension

Closing gaps

Closing Gaps

The large number of vacant lots in the neighbourhood led us to develop a scalable housing proposal adaptable to all the lots in the neighbourhood. This is made possible thanks to the neighbourhood’s characteristic layout, a unique urban grid that has been maintained for more than 500 years and which comes from the old barracas that shaped the Cabanyal. Between these, the escalà was respected, a distance intended for the conservation of the roofs of the barracks and which has marked the evolution of the neighbourhood, also giving its name to our project.

In the axonometry of the neighbourhood you can see our housing proposal in yellow on the site on which we planned the project, in blue the housing cooperative adapted to the numerous vacant lots in the neighbourhood.

En la axonometría del barrio se puede apreciar nuestra propuesta de vivienda en amarillo sobre el solar en el que proyectamos el proyecto, en azul la cooperativa de viviendas adaptadas a los numerosos solares vacíos del barrio.

The escalà

This measure of 1.36m, which we mentioned earlier, separated the barracks and allowed ventilation of the whole neighbourhood in an east-west direction, thus improving the climatic conditions of the Cabanyal. During the evolution of the neighbourhood, the space of the escalà was used for building, losing its function of air conditioning the neighbourhood.

The team has developed a new staircase that recovers the benefits of the original one. Integrated into the dwelling as an open space, it improves ventilation and lighting and at the same time favours the creation of a microclimate throughout the neighbourhood. 

The building

Its versatile design allows the house to be adapted to the needs and lifespan of each family. Moreover, this spatial flexibility is reinforced by the layout of the installations in the central core, which allows the space to be optimised. The modular furniture has a large number of possibilities, allowing the user to make the most of the multi-purpose space available.

Between these modules of fixed dimensions, there are variable sized openings. This allows the system to adapt to the dimensions of different plots and the needs of the home.

Parts of the building

A space that allows the relationship with the exterior, the incorporation of green elements and contributes to improving the thermal comfort of the house, also facilitating cross ventilation. 

The presence of common areas and workspaces with large openings on the ground floor enhances the relationship with the street. This contributes to improving the local economy and local commerce by providing spaces for a wide range of social and economic activities that favour the neighbourhood’s social fabric. 

They help to promote intergenerational and cross-cultural relations through a shared lifestyle against social isolation.

In a commitment to innovation, this element becomes the protagonist of the project, contributing to its energy efficiency, introducing vegetation into the home and bringing together the building’s vertical connections.

Its volume is established as a space that:
-Regulates the temperature inside
-Can be opened or closed for the comfort of the home
-Allows vertical communication and lighting.

The Caloret

The Caloret System is a device developed by Caloret whose main function is to take advantage of daytime solar radiation to heat the air that will be used to ventilate the house in a totally passive way. In addition, while it is not required as a heating system, it will also act as a solar chimney, taking advantage of the accumulated heat to extract the air from the house without the need for active ventilation.

Affordability and viability

We propose a management model that combines the dispersed housing cooperative with social housing, favouring the social integration of vulnerable groups by not promoting segregationist dynamics. It has been developed following criteria of housing equity, to ensure access to decent housing for all groups present in the neighbourhood.

The technical solutions adopted based on Construction 4.0 ensure that the costs of the construction itself are reduced. This, combined with the energy efficiency of the building, contributes to reducing operating costs during its useful life. This combination of factors offers a housing alternative that responds to the emergency situation of the most vulnerable sectors.