5 Strategies & Ways To Solar Architecture

Combining the savviest type of renewable energy with a beautiful design is now a possibility.

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To tell the truth, solar heating has been an integrated part of architecture for a long time. For you to imagine how long ago it was, at that time people had access to stone and adobe walls for heat trap & release.

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No one could have ever thought of solar panel installation in a beautifully designed way. With the development of solar in the 1920s, several experiments began by multiple European architects. At first, passive solar heating got well-known as a result of World War II wartime fuel shortages coupled with the optimization of sunlight. Thanks to the creation of Zeilenbau flats designed by German architects, including Walter Gropius, Otto Haesler, and others, passive solar heating put a start to another perspective of photovoltaic (PV) panel design. Afterward, Jacques Michel came up with the first Trombe wall in 1967 that managed to combine glass and a heat-absorbing dark material for the purpose of solar heating. With such a beginning of solar heating design development from the side of multiple architects, several architectural strategies got implemented to make any design for the purpose of solar heating design a possibility. Mostly, 5 strategies thought out by Jon Gardzelewski got worldwide attention. If you dig deeper into understanding what Trombe wall & passive solar home alongside these 5 solar architectural strategies, then any design of your choice & imagination will be apt for realization. So, let’s proceed with the article to be capable of implementing any design, no matter the circumstances.

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Trombe Wall

An attractive design and beyond exciting prehistory behind its architecture. Look-wise, the Trombe Wall looks like a glass house that gives no impression of a building functioning on solar energy. Indeed, it turns out that the building placed a 2-5 cm glass panel alongside a 10-41 cm dark thick masonry wall which, while incorporated, passes solar heat throughout the building. Such a system provides the Trombe Wall with the right to function at maximum efficiency without environmental pollution. Plus, glass panels aid the faster transfer of solar heat into the house interior because of its thinness. Pictures of the Trombe Wall make consumers envision a house with glasses – it looks like a dream penthouse apartment. Why not go for it?

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Passive Solar Home

All the perks of going for a passive solar design is engaged in the site of the building, materials, and the climate. The goal if going for such a design is to make power consumption the least possible. How does it work? The passive solar home captures sunlight thanks to windows that face the south. Afterward, a passive solar home just retains the heat in heat-storing materials that are gathered together around the concept of thermal mass. If put in simple terms, passive solar design requires windows facing the south, thermal mass like tile, brick, concrete, stone, distribution mechanisms, and control strategies. 

Oh, about strategies. Let’s see with these two PV panel design types, which go well from the architectural viewpoint. What about basing the analysis on the discussion of 5 strategies of architectural PV panel designs? Great!

Strategy #1 Legibility

The whole concept of this strategy is in revealing the systems of the building. The aim of doing such a thing is to understand how everything works inside the building, including wiring, structure, solar panel connection, etc. By having a deep understanding of the building systems, people get the opportunity to structure the industrial design in a legible and modern way. 

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Strategy #2 Planes of Material

There are two examples of houses whose owners went for this strategy – Gerrit Rietveld’s Schroder House and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion. These two buildings praise materials like glass, onyx, marble, and travertine with the aim to show how rich these are. Going with this strategy, people show that they are in love with PV panel intricacies like crystals. 

Strategy #3 Form Follows Function

There is a principle called form follows function. That principle is the driving force of the #3 strategy. According to the principle, the architectural approach to PV panels should be based on the concept stating that a building design should duplicate the shape of the sun’s path. The strategy gets simplified as soon as the building design gets modified to be in line with the PV panel’s right orientation – south. Such a strategy not only provides the opportunity to give an architectural touch to a solar building but also makes the installation of solar equipment easier. Why? Because panels need to be facing south to be easily installed and efficiently operated.

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Strategy #4 Solar Architecture Shading

It is no surprise that photovoltaic panels are capable of giving shade to the building’s surroundings. Its aspect of shading surroundings as needed is what drives strategy #4. Shading and good order of solar equipment are there to ensure a great architectural look for the building. Moreover, if you purchase solar equipment as a bundle that comes in solar panel kits, you will be guaranteed that at any moment, you have the opportunity to modify the shading area & add panels as needed. 

Strategy #5 Hidden Design of Solar Panels

For the implementation of strategy #5, people need either a design innovation or compositional strategy. In both ways, PV panels get hidden in the best way possible from the architectural point of view. Strategy #5 is somewhat similar to strategy #3, Form Follows Function. Likewise, this particular strategy aims at designing everything around the shape and size of the solar equipment to make it the best fit for PV panels. 

Final Note

Solar architecture is not a new thing but is developed enough to be considered an innovation in the market. People all over the world know about the benefits of the sun’s power. However, most of them don’t go solar because of how the looks of their houses degrade because of bulky and not-so-beautiful pieces of solar equipment. Taking the concern for a beautiful design into consideration, architectural panel design research began. Trombe Wall alongside Passive home design are two examples of beautifully designed buildings with a solar panel system. No matter whether you stick to these examples, architects developed 5 strategies for architectural solar design regulation and implementation. If connected with everything you’ve learned throughout the article, a sophisticated house look is guaranteed. 


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