Wuppertal, Germany

We are more than pleased to announce that VIRTUe is participating with a whole new team in the Solar Decathlon Europe 2021! The team has a strong affinity toward urban design and realistic social solutions, which makes the SDE21, set in urban Wuppertal, a perfect ground for us.

Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon is the largest building competition in the world. For the Solar Decathlon Europe in 2021, 18 teams from universities all over the world will be selected to compete against each other. The main goal is to stimulate innovative developments and research in the built environment, not to forget all the attention that is created by the thousands of people watching. Every year the competition is held in a different country.

The 1st Urban Edition

This competition is the first edition of the SDE with a specific focus on urbanisation and development of urban areas. Wuppertal is an industrial city, much like Eindhoven, and so, VIRTUe has inspiration in its direct surroundings in terms of urban renewal and technical innovation. By applying for SDE21, we can use this to our advantage, and further our aim to show the strength and innovative power of our concept and our identity.


Engineering & Construction

Energy Performance

Affordability & Viability

Communication, Education, & Social Awareness



House Functioning

Urban Mobility


The Solar Decathlon is an international competition that challenges university teams to design and build highly efficient and innovatice houses powered by renewable energy. The main goal is to tackle energy transition by blending architectural design and engineering knowledge with innovation, market potential and building efficiency. Initiated in 2002 by the United States Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon takes place every year in a different city in the world. The houses are operated, demonstrated to the public, and evaluated by a jury in a campus of exposition and interaction. The competition involves a broad scope of experitse by challenging teams on 10 contests-recalling the deca (ten) contests of the Olympic decathlon.

Today, it is clear that energy transition cannot be successfully achieved if it is not tackled in an urban perspective. The built environment is responsible for 40% of EU’s energy consumption, and 75% of the building stock in the EU is energetically inefficient (SDE). Cities are the hotspots of these issues, and it is by revitalising the urban building stock and innovating the urban mobility that densifying cities can be transformed and become resilient.

With our concept, RIPPLE, we want to propose a solution for the disconnection between people and the changes they want to see in cities.

We aim to transform the static built environment, prompt social interaction in cities, and activate people to embrace an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

With RIPPLE, we throw a stone that has the power to both engage individuals on a personal level and to create a framework that encourages social interaction. The action on both the apartment and building scale as well as on the urban scale allows us to spark small combined actions that create a strong influence and have a larger and longer lasting impact, rather than doing one large act of sustainability and hoping others will follow.

We focus on how we can evoke an emotional response in every kind of person, no matter their background, age, sex, ethnicity, so that everyone feels personally involved and urged to make changes in their daily habits. By providing elements that prompt social interaction, in the neighborhood as well as in the building, we believe that actions of individuals have a fertile ground to influence neighboring people and spreading the adoption of new habits within the quarter and ultimately spread them to the rest of the city and to other European cities.

Feeling personally called in for action and playfully invited to make small changes, in addition to being invited to share with and learn from the surrounding environment is the spark that leads to a ripple of change.


From the most private sphere of their homes, all the way to the urban level, people are activated to reduce their footprint by personally being engaged in a canvas of social interaction.


We embrace a new approach to building construction, with demountable connections and reusable materials. From an adaptable building we spark a change involving a shift towards a dynamic built environment. Buildings can then adapt accordingly to the needs of the users and respond to the changes in the market demand.


The change in lifestyle is made attractive thanks to affordable and comfortable housing combined with a community as an appealing social magnet. We believe that users need to be inspired by the space they live in for them to accept changes


Our building and urban plan are directed towards a diverse and inclusive social scenario. Wuppertal itself has a very diverse population: age, ethnicity, profession, status and interests make Wuppertal – and especially Mirke – a very colorful social painting. (and our aim to apply our project to other cities supports this choice.)

We focus on inhabitants who are interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle, but need the extra push to do so. They are aware of environmental issues and  they are willing give their contribution, but they do not have the urge or the tools to do so. This building will guide these people to change their habits. It will be a  platform from where they can implement their own initiatives and work together. Instead of choosing a target group of the building that is based on age, social
background or income, the residents will now have a shared goal.


We are turning Wuppertal in a pedestrian-oriented and green city, by creating a route from the city centre to Mirke. Within Mirke neighbourhood, the existing streets and squares are redesigned with means of flexible urban furniture and green spaces in order to enhance social interaction. Pedestrian circulation is prioritized over car circulation. The streets will be freed from parked cars, which will be parked in unique mobility hubs: lively hotspots with vehicle sharing opportunities and that act as social meeting points.


We embrace the situation of renovation and vertical extension as it is the one which is most applicable to growing and densifying cities, especially in Europe. However, we want to abandon the correlation between vertical extension and monotonous and alienated atmosphere which moves away from any form of interaction. Our vertical extension rather recalls a village-kind of building, where inhabitants are prompted to share facilities, interact, and influence each other.

The building tightly connects with the contiguous square, divided into three parts: a terrace extending from the café, the adaptive square with flexible urban furniture and the mobility hub.

Our vertical village brings the equality of a community to a densifying city, by providing a canvas for social interaction. Communal gardens, and pathways that follow the sun path offer opportunities of social activities and urban farming, rather than simple access.

We aim for our vertical village to be an example not only for the social environment that it is created, but also for the energy concept that is adopted. For us, it is not about the last invention of high tech, but about how much we can spread the use of certain energy systems. We are striving to make the energy systems more feasible to implement gradually on a large scale.

We want to increase energy efficiency of the building with detailing in the façade and in the roof construction while using a PV system on roof and façade surfaces for renewable energy generation.

The users are fully involved in the energy, heat and water management. Regulating ventilation, heat storage and energy production is made easy for the inhabitants thanks to smart control panels in the communal areas and within the apartments.


Our project becomes real in a fragment of the whole building. Our demonstration unit will consist of two apartments and some shared facilities, so that visitors can experience the atmosphere of the building.

The demonstration unit perfectly showcases the new way of living envisioned by VIRTUe.In fact, changes in habits cannot fully happen if it does not also start from the most private sphere, the home.

The inhabitants within their apartment are activated to gradually transform their daily habits through positive encouragement. Interactive smart control systems and guiding interior design elements cooperate to prompt these changes.