PJHM Tours Solar Philéas – Solar Decathlon 2014



When you think about issues faced for the cities of tomorrow, what comes to mind? For the SDE2014 team Atlantic Challenge, they wanted to come up with solutions for three important factors in Nantes, France:

  1. How can you reduce urban sprawl?
  2. How can you avoid artificial soil?
  3. How can you welcome newcomers into an existing social fabric?

Team ATC came up with a solution, and took second place overall in the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe, for its submission, Solar Philéas: A project that meets the challenges of Fertile City.

Solar Philéas is based on the Île de Nantes, an island located right in the middle of Nantes city centre. The city is currently undergoing a vast program of urban refurbishment, whose guideline is to take advantage of what is already existing. The city is flourishing: growing in population by an average of 32,000 people per year. That leaves issues to find accommodation without ruining the arable lands in the region with urban sprawl and artificial soils.


To fight the urban sprawl, the Atlantic Challenge team decided to reinvest in the existing, working on a building in the heart of the urban renewal of Nantes – the Cap44.

Cap 44 is an abandoned building with stunning architecture based on the post-beam Hennebique technique where the column and the beam are integrated into a single monolithic element. It was a manufacturing plant in 1895 and from 1974 – 2012 served as an office building.

hst94_C-doc IFACap 44 BuildingLe-projet-Phileas-presente-au-Solar-Decathlon_img-650


To meet the challenges of the artificial soil, the Solar Philéas project reintroduces agriculture in the city. This activity is organized around three points: Work, Live and Share. Agriculture in the city includes several aspects. It can either be nurturing and supported by market gardeners through a sale of proximity, or it can be detached with gardens in each housing. Agriculture in the city also discusses the notion of living together by teaching gardening workshops to strengthen social ties and neighborly relations.

Screenshot 2014-08-19 19.13.08Screenshot 2014-08-19 19.13.32



The French move on average every seven years, which means that they must take ownership of their new habitat while integrating existing social fabric. Social relationships can be inter-generational, professional, neighborhood or others.
To strengthen these links, it is necessary to establish contact through a mix of uses (residential, offices, shops, etc), flexible accommodation, and quality of shared systems (car, laundry service person, etc).

social fabric solar phileas


The objective of the Solar Decathlon competition was to design an energetically self-sufficient house which is part of a sustainable development approach. As part of the competition, the reinvestment project of the Cap 44 building allows the Atlantic Challenge team to develop a strong scenario around the concept of a Fertile City. The prototype in Versailles was a top floor apartment of the Cap 44 with a loggia and a part of the greenhouse. The apartment included a room, kitchen, bathroom, and living room.

The Atlantic Challenge team was composed of ten universities (100 students) from the Pays de la Loire region, supervised by teachers, and supported by 30+ professional partners. You can learn more and even follow them after the Decathlon on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


© Renderings / Graphics / Solar Philéas Photos : Team Atlantic Challenge
Press release and additional information courtesy Solar Philéas.