Solar Decathlon Europe 2019, Szentendre – The art of smart building

The Solar Decathlon Europe is an international competition that challenges collegiate teams to design and build houses powered exclusively by the renewable energy sources: the main aim of the competition is to promote architectural solutions related to solar energy, renewable energies and innovative technologies through the houses built by the university teams.

Initiated by the Department of Energy (DoE) of the US Government, the first Solar Decathlon competition was held in Washington in 2002. So far 16 competitions were organised worldwide (USA, China, South-America, Europe). The competition held in Szentendre is the 17th Solar Decathlon.

University teams apply to Solar Decathlon from all around the world, regardless of whether the competition is held in Europe or on another continent, and the entrants who will have the opportunity to participate in the competition with their designs are selected from the submitted entries based on the decision of an international professional selection committee.

The work performed by the participants of the competition is evaluated on the basis of a wide-ranging system of criteria, where aspects of architecture, sustainability, energy efficiency, construction, aesthetics, awareness raising activities and results as well as market potential are considered. The Teams and the houses they construct have to undergo the so-called decathlon, which cover all the important aspects of environment, architecture, society and market that a modern competition aiming to promote sustainable architecture needs to address these days.


ÉMI Non-profit Limited Liability Company for Quality Control and Innovation in Building (ÉMI), operating as the background institute of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology in Hungary, in cooperation with the Municipal Government of Szentendre town and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) won the right to organize Solar Decathlon Europe 2019 in the designated city of Szentendre, the prestigious international innovative house-building competition of universities.

As the main professional subject matter, the Hungarian organizer emphasizes solutions aimed at the renovation of the existing building stock and it poses a number of new challenges to the competitors: the challenges to perform will include the application of local recycled materials, the high-level integration of solar photovoltaic and solar cell systems, the issue and solution of the summer overheating of buildings, bioclimatic planning and nature-based solutions, as well as the use of high performance composite materials.

10 Teams, representing 27 universities from 3 continents and 8 countries, have successfully fulfilled all the project milestones and assemble their prototypes in Szentendre from 26th June to 11th July. The competition officially started on 12th July. During the two week long period 35 jury members evaluated the Team’s prototypes within the 10 contests.


The competing Teams:

Aura Project 3.1 – ES

Azalea – ES

Inhabit2030 (H2030) – FR

Koeb – HU


Over4 – RO

Resilient Nest – TH

Hungarian Nest+ – HU

The Mobble – B


The closing ceremony was held on 27th July where the final results were shared:

1st place – Inhabit2030 (H2030)

At the dawn of the new energy era, the region of the Team is facing new challenges. Typical of North-Western Europe, it is one of the most populated and economically vulnerable regions in France, with a dense urban fabric resulting from the industrial revolution and its decline. There are more than 700.000 of the so called 1930s houses in this region and despite their unique qualities their rehabilitation is essential. The Habiter2030 Team responds to the issues related to the renovation of these dwellings, encouraging a collective movement that inspires new opportunities for development, employment and education. The Team improves and transforms the typical 1930s house, but the real ingenuity of the Inhabit2030 (H2030) project is the integration of the social and urban environment. This implies a new model for sharing and mutualisation. The role of the inhabitant lies at the centre of the project and the Team members introduce unique and innovative approaches, combining ingenious pro¬ducts with frugal and straightforward solutions.

2nd place – Mor project

In the Netherlands, 55% of Dutch offices will not pass the energy rating certification of label C that will come into effect in 2023. Moreover, the country is currently experiencing a housing crisis with over 1 million homes needed by 2030. As such, MOR is developing a renovation strategy to renovate underperforming office buildings into net-positive, multi-purpose buildings that are contributors to their environment and catalysts for activities and social interactions. The building is flexible to programmatic changes and adaptable to the inhabitants’ needs over time by way of a modular design from the interior modules to the photovoltaic facade tiles on the exterior, as well as through the use of design for disassembly methods. By using prefabrication methods with an economy of scale, MOR is able to offer these housing units at affordable prices for starters (young professionals, age 25-35). Starting from here, MOR aims to create a future-proof built environment that gives more to its surroundings than what it takes away from it. As a case study for the project, the Team decided to refer to the Marconi towers in Rotterdam, a typical 1970s office typology located in an area currently being transformed into a new makers district.

3rd place – Over4 project

Over4 is both literally and figuratively, a multidisciplinary Team of young professionals, students and professors in the fields of architecture, design and civil engineering. The Team developed a renovation project of the 5 storey condominiums built during the communist era in most cities of Romania. Integrating eco-passive building principles and sustainable development, they propose a holistic renovation concept through which these blocks can reach NZEB standards, according to EUs development strategies for 2030.

The Over4 prototype represents one module from the rooftop which is a solar eco-passive house that could be built as a self-standing house and as part of a passive rooftop. Their concept presents a set of good practices on how to design and build ‘smart’: energy efficient, comfortable, sustainable and financially accessible.

After the competition the site is open for the public until 29th September 2019. According to plans the site will function as a Living Lab in the future.

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