We proudly announce that VIRTUe ended sixth place in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018! In total, we scored 862.38 out of the 1000 available points. Virginia Tech (USA) scored first place, UOW (Australia) became second and Baitykool (France) became third. The total score is composed of separate scores for ten different contests. We scored best on Communication and Sustainable Transportation, where we were awarded second place. For almost all of the other contests, we also scored well with more than 80% of the available points and a fourth or fifth rank.

More info can be found at each contest.



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VIRTUe proudly presents LINQ, connected to improve, an apartment complex that lets smart technologies complement and strengthen each other, that stimulates people to use and learn from these technologies and creates a social environment in which people interact with each other.

On the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, we portray our vision by building one of the apartments of LINQ.


As the engineers of the future, we have a responsibility to tackle global sustainability problems. These problems are not just environmental but also social and economic. In Dubai, with its tropical desert climate and extensive city growth, it is even more urgent to overcome these challenges. We want to show the world our solution to a more sustainable built environment at the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018.

Our concept, LINQ connected to improve, is unique; LINQ lets smart technologies complement and strengthen each other, LINQ stimulates people to use, personalize and learn from these technologies and LINQ creates a social environment in which people interact and share experiences with each other. This way, LINQ connects people and technologies to improve efficiency, collaboration and quality of life of current and future generations.

The concept of LINQ is translated into an apartment complex with the same name, to be located in an existing neighborhood in Dubai. This neighborhood is transformed into a lively community, diverse in terms of people, functions and opportunities for interaction. LINQ contains social facilities and a lush green atrium connecting different floors and shared spaces. It runs on a net-zero solar energy system, innovative technologies and a smart system that stimulates the users to live in an efficient and sustainable way.

On the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, we portray our vision by building one of the apartments of LINQ.


Within only 60 years, Dubai has grown from a picturesque Middle East town to a mega city with almost 3 million people and a population that consists for 90% of expats. While all this growth provided Dubai with world fame and a lot of tourism, the fast growth of a city also has downsides.

The freedom, that provides builders with lots of opportunities to build interesting mega projects, resulted in urban sprawl at the edges of the city and the infill of former public spaces. The city keeps spreading out over the desert and the distances become larger and larger, which prevents people from walking and cycling and forces them to travel by car most of the time. People drive very long distances to get to their destination, while many of them do not even know their neighbors.

With our concept LINQ, connected to improve, we want to propose a solution for these problems of disconnection. Instead of just building another neighborhood at the border of the Dubai, we believe that it would have a much greater effect if the old parts of the city would be improved. Therefore, we designed an apartment complex in a renovated a neighborhood in Dubai. Our design is fully focused on improving the environmental, social and economical sustainability for the inhabitants of the city. The neighborhood will be energy efficient, affordable, diverse and comfortable to live in. People from different backgrounds, ages and income classes will live together in this neighborhood where a lot of opportunities for social interaction are present. Shading elements will be provided to improve walkability and the neighborhood will be well-connected to the rest of Dubai, by means of public transport and bicycle lanes.


LINQ is a small, human scale apartment complex with many shared spaces for the inhabitants of the apartment complex and the rest of the neighborhood. Minimum energy loss is determined by the shape of the building. The roof and south façade are tilted 15 degrees to provide for roofed PV panel efficiency and to create a shadowed south façade in the summer months. All floors of LINQ are connected by the curved green atrium, which serves as a meeting place and vertical garden for the inhabitants. All functions are connected to this atrium.

On the ground floor, a supermarket, restaurant, sports room and shared bicycle shed are located. The first floor houses a child playroom, a small theatre, a laundry room and a shared kitchen for the inhabitants of LINQ. The second to fifth floors house the apartments and the top floor contains the mechanical installations and an urban farm. The atrium, shared spaces and urban context together stimulate the connection between people.

Within LINQ, all the households have their own compact private apartment, but they also share a lot of facilities. Because the inhabitants are so diverse, LINQ will be used throughout the whole day. This minimizes the presence of empty spaces and therefore it maximizes the efficient use of space.

The apartments in LINQ are designed around structural core modules. Within these core modules, all the sustainable and innovative technologies are connected to each other to work as effectively and efficiently as possible. The inhabitants of LINQ are connected to these technologies by means of a smart system. The smart system monitors the water and energy use of the inhabitants and gives suggestions to the user for more sustainable living. The interface of the smart system is easy to understand and enables the users and the technologies to learn from each other. The users will better understand the technologies and will be able to adapt them to their needs and wishes. Additionally, the smart system has a social component, in which the inhabitant is updated about social events in the neighborhood and city.


The core module of LINQ is both the structural and technical core of the building. Inside this beautiful piece of furniture, all technologies are connected to each other work as efficiently and effectively as possible.


To minimize the amount of energy needed for cooling, the roof and façade of LINQ are tilted 15 degrees. This way, the solar panels gain the maximum amount of energy and the south façade shadows itself.


The smart system of LINQ connects the inhabitants to the technologies in the house. It monitors the water and energy use of the inhabitants and gives suggestions to the user for more sustainable and social living.


Since LINQ gets its energy from the solar panels on the roof, it is more energy efficient to use the energy directly in direct current, instead of transforming it to alternating current first. This saves almost 20% of the energy.


All materials used in LINQ are as sustainable and innovative as possible. Examples are the biocomposite tiles on the façade, the printed concrete bench in the atrium and the biofoam that is used to isolate the walls.


The double curved atrium walls are fully covered in plants, to provide the inhabitants with an oasis where they can relax, meet each other and grow food. The green wall system uses little water and also has cooling capabilities.


Click on the different highlighted parts for more details about LINQ.