Design Studio SS 08

„Off Grid“ – Abenteuer: Lebensraum


The design program addresses the issue of autonomous dwellings away from any infrastructural supply and disposal. Living in no man’s land, but at least beyond the so-called “grid”, which usually provides the energy and water supply and disposal. The program refers to a movement originating in England, which arose not least because of the recent explosion in real estate prices in and around urban centers. However, it is not about the “restoration” of an era without electricity, clean drinking water or heating! Rather, contemporary and now affordable technologies such as passive house technology, solar technology, generators, water treatment plants, renewable energy and much more are intended to enable autonomous and conscious living beyond the dependence on large energy and water suppliers in almost any location.The questions, which impact this new and different approach has on the design of such autonomous dwellings and how a modern life outside the urban agglomerations but in connection with contemporary communication technologies presents itself, will be explored within this design program.


It could be quickly assumed that the elaborated design proposals would ostensibly serve an “alternative scene”; after all, one is all too quick to associate ecological and sustainable action with cumbersome and ponderous-seeming construction methods. Although the individual projects do not shy away from a profound examination of social and ecological aspects, the elaborated results appear light-footed, playful and inviting throughout. In this context, it is also important to raise awareness about the wide-ranging issue of supply and disposal of the individual buildings. A corresponding approach could subsequently not only lead to an increased assumption of responsibility, but possibly also to a change in consumption behavior, without at the same time having to forfeit a massive quality of life. In other words: it is the sensible use of (natural) resources that is in the foreground of interest. Thus, the preoccupation with the various (energy) sources sometimes even led to an aestheticization of the same. Photovoltaic elements are not merely (subsequently) applied to the outer skin, but are included in the design at an early stage. In this context, knowledge about the required surface dimensions and their corresponding alignments can and must be used at an early stage. This applies in a similar way to the subject of water treatment. Knowledge of the technical requirements also leads, for example, to consideration of any required volumes within a building cubature or even sub terra. To the same extent, this can be applied to the topic of “wind energy”, where the question “What is achievable in terms of power?” plays an indispensable role. Keyword “autarkic” – sun and wind are available at certain times and of course “freely available”. yet it seems all too clear that the knowledge around the use and implementation possibilities in the context of contemporary architecture has only been explored and investigated in its rudiments. Subsequent work in this area is certainly needed to actually do justice to the tremendous potential. The action “off grid” can only be understood as an initial spark.