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Solar Decathlon Wuppertal 2022

The Solar Decathlon combines social commitment with professional, theoretical and practical learning!
Prof. Dr. Jochen Stopper - Faculty Advisor

What is the Solar Decathlon Europe?

The Solar Decathlon is an interdisciplinary student competition. Over a period of two years, student teams develop innovative and structural solutions for the challenges of future living. The aim is to design a building whose energy requirements are met exclusively by solar energy - and to build it in real life. 

The results of the 18 university teams of SDE 21 will be evaluated on the basis of ten competition criteria and presented in a two-week exhibition in Wuppertal (in summer 2022). Architectural, energetic and innovative demands on the house will be evaluated. The international competition combines social commitment with professional, theoretical and practical learning.

SDE 21/22: Your Event for Sustainable Cities - June 10-26, 2022 in Wuppertal, Germany

SDE 21/22 in Wuppertal: Our competition briefly explained

Why is this topic important?

of Europe-wide energy consumption is generated by the building sector

 of buildings are classified as energy-inefficient

 of the energy consumption is used in buildings with year of construction 2000 and older

 of all CO2 emissions are caused by the Building sector

Of the German population lives in cities (urban housing shortage)

Project Wuppertal 2021/22

The competition is divided into a Design Challenge and a Construction Challenge:

graphic explainig the competition and how it works

click on the picture to find out more!

The 10 Disciplines

icon architecture
icon energy performance
icon function
icon comfort
icon building technique


Energy Performance



Building Technique

icon innovation
icon communication
icon sustainability
icon viability
icon urban mobility





Urban Mobility

Our selected building 

levelup is developing renovation measures that include an addition of storeys to this building in the Ludwigsfeld district of Nuremberg. Ludwigsfeld is characterized by a highly heterogeneous population, and this mixture is also reflected in the quality of the architecture.  Above all, residential development in the form of elongated apartment buildings, predominantly unadorned social housing, is repeated particularly often in the neighbourhood.

Why did we choose this old building?

Buildings from between the 1950s-70s represent typical examples of the majority of building stock in Germany. Most of them are in dire need of renovation, because they consume too much energy. At the same time, they are statically suitable for multi-story additions due to their solid supporting structures. For this reason, the levelup team has developed a parametric and adaptable addition in modular timber construction.

drone picture of our selected building in Nuremberg - Germany
The Design Challenge - Addition of a storey to the building 
Site plan of Nuremberg showing where the building can be found

We are creating a whole (energy) concept and design for a building in Nuremberg, including its urban context. We do not explicitly focus on a target group. We aim our concept at all people, regardless of their hierarchical position. We developed a parametric and adaptable addition in modular timber construction, which allows for a flexible response to different building widths and lengths.

The architectural appearance is characterized by a load-bearing structure attached to the courtyard side of the building, which creates a connection between the existing building and the addition of storeys. It also provides barrier-free access via elevator cores and arcades and supports the addition of balconies to the building.
On the street side, the architectural image is characterized by photovoltaic (PV) systems integrated into the building, and panel heating systems will be installed on the extant façade as a renovation measure.

rendering of the addition of stories showing the street side rendering of the addition of stories showing the garden side

Design of the building

In addition to a forward-thinking and innovative architectural language, our team was primarily concerned with developing a system that could be adapted to existing buildings from the 1950s and 1970s. The „levelup“ system was developed in such a way that it can be flexibly adapted to recurring similar building characteristics of these building types, such as building widths between 9.0 - 10.50 meters, building lengths between 30 - 150 meters, structures built with reinforced-concrete ceilings, with load-bearing exterior walls, and a load-bearing interior wall. We see the innovation and the special unique selling point of our design in this modular adaptability.

We chose a modular system consisting of wooden modules with the following dimensions: length 7.50 metres X width 2.95 m X height 3.10 m. The resulting dimensions are derived from current lorry transport sizes. The arrangement of the modules is subject to a strict grid, which can be adapted to numerous building, respectively. 
The staircases play a central role, as they represent both vertical and horizontal constraint points. The modules are arranged between the „immovable“ staircase cores in such a way that a maximum number of room cells can be placed between them in order to close off the gap to the staircases with a threshold. The distances between the existing staircase cores and the modular addition of storeys may vary slightly based on varying existing and newly installed geometries. These must be “bridged” using non-modular installations around the staircases; however, such connecting areas are to be kept to a minimum, as the goal is to build using modular, prefabricated units.

schematic graphic showing the side views of the building in orange

What do we want to achieve with our mission?

A total of 31 new apartments will be created at this house but German wide we could gain more than 1.1 million new apartments with the addition of Storeys as well as several communal, green areas and roof-top gardens that will promote interaction between the residents.

The Building Challenge House Demonstration Unit

We must build a fully functional prototype on a scale of 1:1, which exactly represents a section of the original design for the addition of storeys. This House Demonstration Unit (HDU) will then be exhibited in Wuppertal for two weeks in June 2022.

More information about our construction journey can be found here and for more detailed information click here.

rendering showing where our HDU is placed in the addition of stories

In the discipline of architecture, the focus is on the design and functionality of the building designs and their demonstrators. The aim is to show innovative designs in a real urban context, involving the neighbourhood and the neighbourhood.

This discipline deals with the energy consumption and solar energy supply of the demonstrators in real operation. The data obtained during the competition phase is then scientifically processed and published.

The discipline aims to reproduce the operation of a modern home. It is about the functionality and efficiency of the selected household appliances for maximum efficiency while taking into account today's demands.

In this discipline, the indoor comfort of the demonstrators without active heating or cooling is measured under the climatic conditions of the SDE21 competition site. 
For this purpose, temperature, humidity, sound insulation, lighting and indoor air quality are checked.

The discipline focuses on the planning and implementation of technical and building physics concepts. The qualitative architectural integration and the proportionality of the concepts with regard to climate-neutral building operation are evaluated.

This discipline is closely linked to the other nine. It is about the degree of innovation of the designs and demonstrators.

This contest deals with the communication, education and empowerment strategies developed and implemented by the teams. 
By addressing and integrating different target groups at an early stage, the aim is to inform as many people as possible and to get them enthusiastic about the urban energy transition.

This discipline evaluates the measures for optimised circular economy and sustainable building design. This includes the saving of resources and the avoidance of demolition waste through deconstruction- and recycling-friendly construction and the identification of material recycling potentials. The buildings should also be able to respond to current challenges such as demographic change, changes in social coexistence, dwindling biodiversity and the urban micro-climate through future-oriented concepts.

In particular, the questions are to what extent the project can be implemented financially by investors and residents and to what extent the project contributes to solving urban challenges, with a focus on residents and neighbourhood level.

The aim of this discipline is to develop an adequate and needs-based mobility concept for the neighbourhood in which the project is located. The concept should contribute to reducing car traffic and at the same time meet the mobility needs of the neighbourhood residents.