Spain Shines at Solar Decathlon 2012

Solar Decathlon 2012For all of you that don’t already know, I’m a total sucker for some solar science. I love the innovation that is happening right now in solar power technologies and the renewable energy sector in general. It’s an ever-expanding field that’s just teeming with so much incredible potential, especially for a country like Spain.

So, when I saw that the Solar Decathlon Europe event was coming to Madrid for the second time, I dusted off the old camera and hustled my butt up there. It opened last Saturday and I’ve already been three times. What can I say? These things just call to me.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the event, it’s an international competition that includes 20 multi-disciplinary teams from universities around the world. These teams design homes that showcase the latest in solar energy technologies, along with other eco-friendly elements. It’s a bi-annual event, taking place alternatively between Washington DC and Madrid. Teams work together for years perfecting their designs, working along the way to find technical and economic sponsorship. It’s an incredible opportunity for university students and I’m especially proud of the Spanish teams this year.

There are five Spanish teams participating at this year’s event, all with distinctive and intelligent designs. At this moment, the Italian house is in the lead, but there’s plenty of time left and I’m pulling for the Spaniards to go all the way this year!

So, let’s start off with the home town teams, shall we? I’ve listed Team Catalonia first since they’re the reigning architectural champions. This particular house may not be my favorite style-wise, but it’s certainly one of the most unique designs in the competition.

1. (E)co House  – (E)co Team (Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya)

This house is designed around the greenhouse affect, using an outer layer to trap and store heat on the inside. The inside isn’t the coziest place I’ve ever been, but its got what you might call a cool, green hipster feel to the interior.

Solar Decathlon 2012 (e)co House
Solar Decathlon 2012, (e)co House

2. Patio 2.12 – Andalucía Team (Universidades de Sevilla, Jaén, Granada, and Málaga)

Ahh, those crazy Andaluces and their patios. This house is probably one of my favorites. Maybe it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing as far as exterior design, but its green properties (using ceramic sweat to control temps) and its multi-functional interior, which is lit by a covered patio, is pretty darn cool.

Solar Decathlon 2012, Patio 2.12

Solar Decathlon 2012, Patio 2.12

3. Pi House – University of Zaragoza. 

I’m so intrigued by the Pi House and its rotating design. I have to admit that they’re the reason I’ve been to the event three times in four days. Come on and finish it already!

Solar Decathlon 2012 - Pi House
Solar Decathlon 2012, Pi house

4. SML House – Team Valencia (Universidad de Cardenal Herrera)

The SML House has a ton of cool features, but it’s the flexible living space that really makes this design unique. Its got three adaptable sizes: small, medium, and large. This lets the house extend its longevity since it can accommodate the needs of a large family or it can convert into a small house when the kiddies go off to college, or jail.

Solar Decathlon 2012 - SML House
Solar Decathlon 2012, SML House

5. Eki House  – Basque Team (Universidad del País Vasco)

I missed the opportunity to go into this green machine, but I know that it’s one solar power powerhouse. Its solar energy source comes from the movable solar panels that can serve dual duty as shading for the terrace even as they collect and store heat. Fancy, heh?

Solar Decathlon 2012, Eki House

Solar Decathlon 2012, Eki House
I’ve got a ton more photos to post this week, but if you simply can’t wait for old Hamatha here to get her culo in gear, check out my article at, which has more in-depth information on each house.

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