Around 60 percent of the homes in the Netherlands are row house terraces, with around a quarter of those built in the post-war period. While these constructions characterize much of the Dutch urban landscape, they weren't exactly built with energy efficiency as their first priority. A team of Delft University students has developed a concept for a solar-powered skin designed to optimize energy usage, while also preserving this classic Dutch architecture.
The skin covers the exterior of the existing house from font to back, one side fitted with glass and photovoltaic panels to harvest the energy from the sun, while the other contains added insulation to trap the heat indoors. According to team, this concept demonstrates how 1.4 million similarly built Dutch homes could become entirely energy neutral.
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 using what is known as the "stack effect." This refers to a difference in density between the indoor and outdoor air which in turn creates a buoyancy force, driving natural ventilation through the building.
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