The aesthetic integration of solar modules in architecture and urban development



A theoretical examination of the design of photovoltaic systems with reference to the practical case study of the HGK Campus Dreispitz

#StudioIndustrialDesign #Master-Thesis

A radical rethink is needed, away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies. A key technology in this area is solar energy. But how do we as designers deal with it? Seen from an aesthetic perspective, there has hardly been any integration of photovoltaic modules into architecture and urban development to date. In my thesis, I therefore explore the question of what the design of solar systems could look like in the future, so that they are no longer perceived as foreign bodies but as an integral part of the design work.

Generating electricity using the sun has many advantages. On one hand, it generally supplies enough energy to cover the entire human electricity demand. On the other hand, this type of energy generation can be used in a decentralised way. The electricity required can be produced locally exactly where it is needed.

The share of renewable electricity is still relatively low. Max Ehrhart sees one reason for this in the insufficient approach to the topic from a design / aesthetic perspective. If one analyses existing photovoltaic systems, it is noticeable that they are predominantly characterised as monotonous, dark, smooth and generally rather repellent. In addition, the modules are often hardly integrated into the architecture or urban structure, but are rather somehow placed on existing surfaces.

The aim of this work is to change the way we look at photovoltaics. In the future, solar modules must no longer be seen as a burden in a design process, but must be an integral part of the design work from the very beginning. For this new understanding, Max Ehrhart's master's thesis examines technical developments as well as economic and political conditions and analyses and defines requirements for a better integration of solar modules in our built environment. Using visual, partly speculative concepts for the integration of photovoltaics on the HGK campus, he tries to initiate an open discussion about the future design and integration of solar modules.

Interview mit Max Ehrhart


Prof. Werner Baumhakl, Studio Industrial Design,

Nicole Schneider, Studio Industrial Design


Meret Ernst, Studio Industrial Design,

Alfredo Häberli, Studio Industrial Design


Dr. Ralf Michel, Studio Integrative Gestaltung