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The Sun Ship

The Sun Ship (Das Sonnenschiff) is a small community that is run entirely by solar energy. It was built in 2004 in Freiburg im Breisgau's renowned Vauban quarter. Sonnenschiff was designed by architect Rolf Disch, who also built the Heliotrope, and generates four times more energy than it uses.[1]


This steel structured construction is called the Sun Ship as its skyline reminds the observer of a freight ship.

Its climatic design allows it to stay cool in the summer and store heat in the winter.

The groundfloor is used for high-end retail and commercial space. The next three floors are used as office and commercial space, while nine penthouses on its rooftop offer residential space (112 to 300 sq. meters). This unique integration of retail, commercial and residential space, all with a carbon-free footprint and a positive energy balance demonstrate the superior quality of Rolf Disch Solar Architecture.

Energy Needs[edit]

The energy needs of the building are reduced by its 3-pane windows and Vacuum Insulation Panels (aka VIP). A highly efficient heat recovering ventilation system ensures air renewal while limiting energy loss. Computer simulations rate the heating requirements to between 10 and 20 kWh/sq. meter per year.[citation needed]

About 1 000 sq. meters (i.e. 135 kWp) of photovoltaic solar panels are installed on the Sun Ship altogether. This electricity production allows the building to be energy positive.[citation needed]

Heat is produced by a city quarter wood-chip heat and power plant (cogenerative) located some 100 meters away from the community center.


Apart from the nine penthouses, the Sun Ship houses several companies such as high-end supermarket Alnatura, a DM drug store and such institutions as Ökostrom and the non-profit Öko-Institut.


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