Sunday, May 12, 2019

Energy Storage Faculty Consortium Project - Germany Day 9 Vauban, Heliotrop & the Solar Settlement

The CREATE international faculty consortium educators had another full day here in Freiburg, Germany. Following the local custom of eschewing vehicles in favor of public transportation, we traveled by tram to the Freiburg neighborhood known as Vauban. Vauban was created on the site of a former German then French Army housing area as a sustainable living community. It was named after the French engineer Sebastian Vauban. In an effort to understand the concepts of sustainable living used in Vauban we were met by a series of local experts, the first being Meinhard Hansen, a passive house architect who has built some of the projects in Vauban. Mr. Hansen walked us through the neighborhood while explaining the use of passive house architecture and building to create a building that does not need much heating or cooling. Some of these principles were: good insulation including 30 cm thick walls, deep balconies, triple insulated windows, and mechanical ventilation of shading. The second expert who hosted our exploration of Vauban was eRich Lutz, a landscape architect who has been very involved in the creation of Vauban’s green spaces. The commitment to developing green spaces within Vauban began at the earliest design and building stage of its development with a commitment to keep as many of the native trees in place, even resulting in the movement of site plans to other areas to not disturb the existing trees. The result is a rich green fabric surrounding the neighborhood from shade trees to walking paths, multiple children and community areas, and several pilot community gardens. The neighborhood is intentionally pedestrian and bike friendly and disincentivizes owning a car with its 18,000 euro fee per household. Vauban is created to contribute to maximize community interaction. Community involvement is high has been very successful in attracting many young families. It has become a sought after relocation site for young educated professionals from all over Europe.

After lunch at the popular Vauban restaurant Suden, our group was met by our afternoon host, Dr. Tobias Bube, Director of Marketing and International Relations for the Rolf Disch Solar Architecture Office. Dr. Bube was able to show our group two different housing models featuring the innovative use of solar that had been pioneered by his firm. The first was a unique single family home called the Heliotrop. The Heliotrop was the first plus-energy house in the world and produces three times more energy than it uses. It moves in small increments to track the path of the sun in order to use as much of the daily sunlight as possible. The second Rolf Disch project that we viewed was the Solar Settlement. This is a development consisting of a commercial building and over 50 terrace houses all of which make extensive use of solar and energy efficiency. It was the first housing community in the world in which all the homes produce a positive energy balance and which is emissions-free and CO2 neutral. Built between 2000 and 2005 in the Vauban quarter of Freiburg the design of the Solar Settlement was recognized internationally as an innovative concept and the community has continually received delegations from around the world to study (and possibly replicate) the concepts in other countries. We ended the day at the Rolf Disch Architecture firm office which also had a number of innovative design features. The Solar Settlement has proven to be another very popular living concept and has enjoyed full occupancy since its opening. More information about the Rolf Disch Plus Energy concept and solar architecture can be found at