Solar Lab: Spatial

3 Oct 20226 Oct, BlueCity Lab | Rotterdam
Back to Solar Labs

This Lab explores the natural and aesthetical integration of solar harvesting techniques, other than panels on roofs, into our build environment, and the new "active" building materials and design methods this entails.


The sun, our source of life, has become the cheapest source of energy today. Yet designing a fossil-free world for all, powered by the sun, requires more than technocratic solutionism and one-size-fits-all panels. This solar-powered world needs to be mindful of circadian rhythms, of human behavior, cultural practices and energy needs tied to a specific place and system. The Solar Biennale envisions and critically reflects on the future of solar energy.

The Solar Lab - Spatial explores the natural integration of solar energy into buildings and the new "active" building materials and design methods this entails. Think of Solar as the new material, a building block similar to a brick. What could that 'brick' look like? Regard it as something that is essential to and part of the assembly of a building. Not just a facade or something that is added onto a surface, but an integral part of its design. How can we develop and use new materials that are organic and circulair to build these future cavities with?

Solar Design

Solar designers are both questioning and expanding the materiality of solar technology by proposing new ways to integrate the technology with other materials. Their work gives new emotional and aesthetic values to solar technology by making it for instance colorful, soft and cuddly, pliable, invisible, modular or full of playful patterns. This makes solar energy more user friendly, understandable and approachable.

Research Question

Design and develop a Solar Design “probe” around the question what solar, as the new, circular building material, could look like?

How will we design if solar is an essential material for construction and assembly, and not an afterthought? How will we make sure buildings and cities produce energy? What will our future cities look like and how will they function when all surfaces are harvesting energy from the sun? If every surface becomes active, powering its surroundings, will we consider a building or city to be broken if it doesn’t generate its own energy?

Experts, facilitators, mentors

The Solar Lab program will feature several leading solar and bio designers, researchers and material engineers to provide inspiration, share their extensive knowledge and provide feedback on participant's ideas. Among others with Marjan van Aubel, Teresa van Dongen, Emma van der Leest, Ermi van Oers, Kameleon Solar and Ed van Hinte.

For whom?

This lab is for everyone who wonders: how to become a solar designer? Both beginners as more advanced designers are welcome. No solar insider knowledge is necessary.

Lab facilities

The lab will take place at BlueCity Lab, an advanced bio-circular playground, and will include several introductions to concepts and technologies like bio mimicry, biotechnology and bio-engineering, in addition to a 'dry' fabrication lab.

The 4-day program will focus on getting to know a multitude of natural and technological techniques for harvesting energy from sun light to providing the participants with a diverse toolbox that can be applied to the research question.

Please note that, due to the relatively slow character of especially the bio-based methodologies, the 4-day program will most likely not allow for sufficient time to create a tangible prototype. We will therefore focus mostly on developing theoretical concepts.

Join us!
  • Get your ticket

    For whom?
    This lab is for everyone who wonders: how to become a solar designer? Both beginners as well as more advanced designers are welcome. No solar insider knowledge is necessary.

    Participation costs 150 Euros, which includes daily beverages and lunch. The Solar Lab can facilitate a maximum of 15 participants.

    Buy your ticket here!

  • When and where?

    03.10.2022 - 06.10.2022

    BlueCity in Rotterdam

    BlueCity is an international icon of circular economy, a national platform for circular entrepreneurs, and a very visible local accelerator that empowers circular entrepreneurs and inspires citizens.

  • Our partners

    This Solar Lab was assigned by for the Topsector Energy, at the request of TKI Urban Energy.

    The Solar Biennale collaborates closely with BlueCity Lab for the development and realization of the Solar Lab - Spatial.

About The Solar Labs

Two Solar Labs are taking place as part of The Solar Biennale program, and both offer a 4-day intensive program focused on knowledge sharing and knowledge development.

  • Purpose

    The purpose of The Solar Labs is twofold:

    a. Promoting knowledge development around Solar Design, so that more and more people can help build our solar future.

    b. Stimulating more connections between professionals from various disciplines who collectively play a role in envisioning and creating new solar futures

    Both Labs (Personal & Spatial) are organized around a central research question that leads the participants to formulate one or more answers through a design probe. Each day a different expert will share knowledge through an interactive lecture or workshop. Following these sessions, participants are invited to experiment hands-on with solar materials, techniques and applications resulting in the creation of a Solar Design “Probe”.

    Participants will engage in a design process using the materials and tools made available to them. Mentors and experts are invited to provide inspiration, guidance and reflection to the group of participants.

    The Labs are well documented through video and a written report, in order for the process and results to be shared with the wider public during DDW ‘22 and The Solar Biennale community.