Solar panels are growing up before our very eyes — from lanky, awkward metal structures sticking out like sore thumbs on city rooftops to beautifully mature, smoothly shaped arrangements that are no longer an afterthought, but part of the building design itself.
As clean energy becomes a realistic opportunity for nearly all homeowners, energy efficient homes are popping up across the globe, showing off exactly how renewable design can seamlessly combine functionality and style.
Here are just some of our favorite aesthetically outstanding examples of residential solar panel installations:
The Endesa Pavilion (Barcelona, Spain)
Designed using computer software to encourage the best absorption of sunlight, the Endesa Pavilion (frequently referred to as “Solar House 2.0”) is a modern, exciting architectural project. Situated off the Olympic Port of Barcelona, the jagged walls of this house are undeniably striking, and inherently practical — each one carefully situated to make use of the sun’s natural path for rising and setting.
CO2 Saver House (Lake Laka, Poland)
Pretty yet practical, the CO2 saving home created by Peter Kuczia in Poland uses a combination of black fiber cement panels and untreated wood to optimize solar energy levels. Kuzcia’s design utilizes multiple levels and strategic angles to collect as much sunlight as possible. The colorful panels scattered amongst the timber represent the beautiful hues of the surrounding landscape, while giving the overall home a bold and modern appearance, unlike anything else in the world.
ShelteR3 (2015 Solar Decathlon)
A disaster-proof home doesn’t have to be an architectural disaster. In response to the 2015 Solar Decathlon competition, Crowder College and Drury University reimagined the concept of the traditional concrete bunker. They came up with a completely solar home, strong enough to defend itself (and the people within) from huge storms. Everything, from the shape of the roof to the placement of studs in the walls, is designed with the goal of withstanding forceful winds. The ShelteR3 home (pronounced “Shelter Cubed”) is tornado-proof, and capable of supplying all the energy you need to live comfortably — even if the grid is destroyed.
The Green Zero Home (Revine Lago, Italy)
How about a sustainable solar home that you can build yourself? The Green Zero prefab home created by Daniele Menichini is an incredible re-interpretation of modern modular housing that fits with style ideals throughout the world. Though it has a primarily minimalist design, it’s not lacking in amenities. The house is equipped with all the conveniences you might need, whether you’re setting up home in a forest, or on the beach. The Green Zero home even incorporates a rainwater management and drainage system, making it easily suited to almost any landscape.
Team Germany (2009 Solar Decathlon)
Another Solar Decathlon entry — this time taken from the 2009 event — Team Germany’s approach to sustainable domestic energy represents the more modern innovations being explored today, thanks to its use of vertical solar panels. Taking advantage of all available space, the structure not only uses rooftop solar panels, but also a collection of 250 film-like panels across the exterior walls — offering a result that’s both visually appealing and capable of producing an impressive 11.1Kw of clean energy.
The “INhouse” (California, United States)
Designed by Polytechnic State University students in California, the INhouse is a net-zero home that allows you to maintain a lush and healthy garden, even in times of drought — a particularly important consideration in regards to California’s water-sparse history. The solar-panel topped structure allows greywater to be drained into an ingenious wetland system, which filters and uses the water throughout landscape irrigation.
The “GRoW” Home (New York, United States)
While the shining accomplishment of the GRoW Home is that it’s entirely solar sufficient, the building’s incredible panels aren’t the only stars to mention. In fact, perhaps the most exciting thing about this property is the thriving all-weather garden that lives at its center. Designed by students at the University of Buffalo, the part-greenhouse-part-solarium home runs on thermal energy and solar power to achieve complete self-sufficiency — adapting quickly to the seasons using passive design. The GRoW Home creates all the power you need to live comfortably, and grow your own crops, too.
Solar Power Design is Growing
The way architects and other big thinkers imagine and reimagine solar design is constantly changing, particularly as new innovations allow for solar technology to be implemented in new ways — from horizontal installations, to PV materials fused directly into window glass. The videos above represent only a few of the amazing advancements in solar installation and eco-friendly architectural design; beautiful and fully solar-powered homes have become a realistic option for sustainable property connoisseurs across the globe.