Energy Neutral Architecture That Inspires

March 6, 2014

What follows is a truly dynamic engineering feat, an entry in the 2014 Solar Decathalon, adding a photovoltaic skin to an old house – in this case a Dutch row house that was built following World War II – that will change the structure to an energy neutral domicile.

The skin covers the exterior of the existing house from font to back, one side fitted with glass and photovoltaic panels to harvest solar energy, while the other contains insulation to trap the heat indoors.

Critical to the skin’s effectiveness is its adaptability. During winter, the skin encloses the house entirely to contain heat, then in the autumn and spring it opens partially to provide ventilation. In the hotter months of the year, it is opened up completely to maximize airflow. Read the news story below.

TU Delft students convert Dutch terraced house into energy neutral abode

TU Delft student team’s participation in the 2014 Solar Decathlon with its Prêt-à-Loger concept this summer is confirmed. During this ‘Olympic Games for sustainable construction’, the team will built a house which shows how 1.4 million terraced houses in the Netherlands are able to provide their own energy. They are using a new skin that includes solar panels and smart technology to make the house energy-neutral. The official kick-off of Prêt-à-Loger will take place at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment on Thursday 6 February.

New skin

In Versailles, the Delft team will reconstruct the original model home located in Honselersdijk (Westland) with all their modifications. Besides the technical improvements, the primary concern is that the residents are able to retain their typical Dutch house they are so attached to, while immediately getting a more spacious and improved living environment. Affordable, social and completely sustainable. The project is called Prêt-à-Loger – ready to be lived in – because the residents are able to remain living there while renovations are carried out.

Energy leap

Making existing housing sustainable is the task of the future. The Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is participating in the concept through the Energy Leap Innovation Programme and wants to implement it in various neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. The principle of the Energy Leap concept is that total net expenses of residents following modifications must not be higher than before, with the difference being that energy costs will be reduced to zero when the mortgage or rent is higher. Financial feasibility of Prêt-à-Loger is therefore an important area of concern.


The project is supported by various parties involved in construction. The house will be built by the TBI-Enterprises ERA Contour, Hazenberg Bouw en Koopmans Bouwgroep. Putman Installaties BV en Solar Compleet BV is supplying the climate control systems, Van Dorp Installaties the PCMs and domotics, Sto Isoned the post-insulation panels and DMEGC the solar cells integrated in glass and PV Syst. 
Additional support is coming from TU Delft, Deerns, DPA Cauberg-Huygen, The Green Village, EcoBouw, Solarevent, Komplot and Printer Pro. However, the team is always open to new partners.

Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon is a competition between 20 universities from around the world and will take place at Versailles, adjacent to the Sun King’s palatial gardens, between 28 June and 14 July. Twenty houses have to function independently for two weeks, using only solar energy. The entries are assessed on ten criteria, hence the name Decathlon. With over 300,000 visitors, this is an opportunity for companies, students and universities to showcase their know-how and products on the world stage. The other entries are new-build villas or plans that consist of new-build additions to existing premises.

More information

If you would like more information, please contact professor Andy van den Dobbelsteen, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, tel. +31 (0)15 2783563 or +31 (0)6 39251421.
Wendy Batist, TU Delft media relations officer, tel. +31 (0)15 2788499 or +31 (0)6 43468356 
or visit

Source: Delft University of TechnologyPrêt à Loger



Glenn Meyers

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.