Germany’s Blauhaus doesn’t hide its solar panels — it flaunts them

Many people don’t mind slapping solar panels on their roofs, especially if they’ll only be seen on Google satellite images. You’ll come up with a lot of results if you search “Solar panels are ugly,”  but not everyone thinks so. In fact, on the campus of German university Hochschule Niederrhein, you’ll find the Blauhaus, or Blue House, which makes having solar panels a statement. The entire building is covered in them.

The majority of the building’s face is made up of photovoltaic cells, while the bottom is covered in glass, where sustainable energy displays will visible to those cruising by. The panels are rotated depending on the sun’s angle.

Kadawittfeldarchitektur built the energy-efficient, zero-emission center on the college to passive house standards, according to Architect’s Newspaper. That means the total energy to be used for heating, water, and electricity can’t exceed 120 kilowatt hours per square meter per year. The building is also airtight and the temperature of the living areas can’t reach over 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) for more than 10 percent of the time.

“The special facade consisting of oppositely inclined, blue-tinged glass and photovoltaic elements has been designed to perfectly suit the orientation and incidence of solar radiation,” according to the building’s designers.

In addition to the building itself being a visible symbol of energy-efficiency, the interior has an energy center and energy laboratory called the Innovatorium. It also houses a library and offices, as well as a terrace on the roof.

A team at Michigan State University has been working on a fully transparent solar cell, but who knows? Maybe Blauhaus’s aesthetic will catch on.

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