photo: Bart van Overbeeke Fotografie

On October 25th the first version of the Solar Design Challenge took place as part of the Dutch Design Week. The top three designs of this year’s competition were presented in the ‘Mind the Step’ theatre. The Solar Design Challenge is organized by Solliance (the thin film solar research center) in cooperation with High TechXL, High TechXL Plaza (the incubator hub for start-ups at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven) and Holland Innovative (Project management, Product- & Process Development and Reliability Engineering). 

Huib van den Heuvel, Managing Director Solliance, is the initiator of the Challenge. “If you look at successful product introductions worldwide you see that design is often the differentiating factor. It adds human appeal and brand power to products. Just recently, a scientific study showed that attention to design in the development stage of new products brings some 20% extra profit. The challenge for companies is to stand out in looks AND function. And blending the two is not that simple. That’s why we’ve organized the Challenge.”

Studio SOLARIX was selected as the winner by the jury, consisting of the organizing parties, chaired by prof. Elphi Nelissen, dean of the Department of the Built Environment of the TU/e and organizer on behalf of the three universities of technology in the Netherlands of the ‘Mind the Step’ exhibition.

‘SOLARIX brings art, energy and technology together, delivering an esthetically appealing and sustainable façade with a unique design’ states architect Marloes van Heteren, who was very pleased to receive the first prize. Studio Solarix is a start-up company that Marloes runs together with designer Reinier Bosch. The jury’s opinion was that the originality and the quality of the design of the composite façade element with integrated solar cells opens up many interesting business opportunities and was unanimous in the conclusion that this startup could take good benefit of the 5000 Euros of in-kind support by the organizing parties in order to move to the next milestone.

Second prize was won by NewBestArchitecten (NBA), based on their company strategy to focus completely on the design and realization of zero-energy buildings in the residential market, offices / utility and agricultural sector. One impressive example is the realization of 2 zero-energy, 5-storey high social housing units with solar panels integrated esthetically in the façades of the building. Harold van de Ven, one of the directors of NBA, explained the audience that time has really come to invest in the zero-energy renovation of buildings because the return on investment is simply there. NBA is discussing with financial parties the model to offer such renovation including the complete financing of the project.

The third prize went to Monique van den Nieuwenhof, representing a team of Solliance staff working on the development of a solar curtain for greenhouses. Curtains are being used in greenhouses for filtering the excess of light in order to protect the crop. Solliance integrated lightweight, flexible solar cells in an innovative curtain design that allows for a variable light transmittance. Given the large area of greenhouses in the Netherlands and abroad the energy yield can be impressive. Solliance is looking for commercial parties that are interested to bring this product to the market.
The challenge will be a fixed item in the program of the Dutch Design Week in the years to come.
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