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Behind the scenes at the Solar Pavilion

24 October 2022

Solar Pavilion — © V8 Architects
With the Solar Pavilion, Marjan van Aubel and V8 Architects sketch a new perspective on solar energy. The pavilion consists of a steel structure covered with a wafer-thin fabric of coloured solar cells.

Michiel Raaphorst, architect & co-founder of V8 Architects. "Marjan van Aubel called us in May, asking: can you help? Our previous collaboration with Marjan for the Dutch Pavilion in Dubai was a success, and she was looking into a pavilion for Dutch Design Week. Of course, it was short notice, so we had to move quickly. Three days later, we met with Marjan, and Miriam van der Lubbe, the Creative Head of DDW. While sketching, we came up with a surface that allows you to harvest solar energy, but also forms a meaningful part of the environment."

The result resembles a slightly curved sun cloth. Two staircases allow visitors to climb through the solar panels to see the top. Michiel: "Up there, you suddenly find yourself in this other world: the solar field. The staircases under the pavilion lead to each other, so you meet up there. The TADA app kind of perfects that scene. This app enables people to have their photo taken from a distance via a QR code, putting them in the picture with almost the entire canvas."

Marjan van Aubel with Michiel Raaphorst (V8 Architects) and Kevin Verpaalen (Kameleon Solar) - photo via TADA

Practical yet poetic

Building the pavilion was a challenge, for which V8 Architects and Marjan collaborated with more than ten parties. Michiel: "The structure contains about five thousand kilos of solar panels. We deliberately left all the connections, wires, and discs visible so visitors can see how everything works. A practical view of the structure." 

The other side of the story is actually poetic: the sensation of the sun you feel during the day can also be experienced at night thanks to the light and heat the solar cells generate. Michiel: "We use technology to represent a natural phenomenon, and to do so, we harvest the energy from that natural phenomenon itself. So the Solar Pavilion represents the energy of the sun and cooperation. All these parties worked together to realise this project because we all believe in Marjan van Aubel's message: the time for a solar revolution is now. The right approach was also essential: involving the various parties in the process as early as possible and giving them space to 'hack' the project. With that, everything came together: parties who all believe in innovating, collaborating, and sometimes failing a little to move forward."

The Solar Pavilion came about thanks to a collaboration between:

and thanks to financial contributions from: