Sun Ship (building)

The Sun Ship is a large integrated office/retail building designed by architect Rolf Disch and located in Freiburg directly next to the Solar Settlement by the same designer. It uses 60,000 sq. ft. for retail, commercial and residential space.

Sun Ship in Freiburg

As a whole this building produces more energy than it consumes per year and utilizes the most up-to-date building technology. Some aspects that make this building particular are its vacuum insulated walls, ventilation with 95% heat recovery, triple paned windows and its energy façade.

It is the first positive energy office building worldwide.[citation needed] The office spaces are flanked on both the East and West sides entirely with windows, which maximizes natural lighting and employee views while it minimizes the energy used for artificial lighting.

The Sun Ship includes a supermarket, convenience store and bakery-café on the first floor, offices and work spaces on the 2-4 floors and 9 penthouses on its roof. In addition to the office and retail space, there are two conference rooms.

PlusEnergy penthouse of the Sun Ship's roof in Freiburg


PlusEnergy is a term coined by Rolf Disch that indicates a structure’s extreme energy efficiency so that it holds a positive energy balance, actually producing more energy than it uses. With the completion of his private residence, the Heliotrope, in 1994, Disch had created the first PlusEnergy house. His next goal in its development was thus the mass application of the concept to residential, commercial and retail space. As the concept further developed and gained financial backing as well, Disch built several more projects with PlusEnergy certifications. “PlusEnergy is a fundamental environmental imperative,” Disch claims.[1] Disch believes that passive building is not enough because passive homes still emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

Community planningEdit

Believing community planning goes hand in hand with sustainable development, Disch dedicates much of his design and planning to the symbiosis of his projects' surroundings. A solar community generates identification and an enormous public image. Disch says he attracts great tenants, innovative undertakings and creative work places through his design. Disch always aims to create a community with combined uses for an ecological urban planning concept like traffic management – with wide, attractive walkways, bike routes and connections to public transportation. At the Solar Settlement for example, tenants and owners incorporate bike- and carsharing and the neighborhood has an extensive car-free zone with many public transportation connections. Disch also has incorporated community solutions for energy. For example, a biomass co-generation unit is extremely expedient, which meets the (reduced) additional heating demands for his PlusEnergy homes.

Solar Settlement and Sun Ship in Freiburg. One can see how the Sun Ship protects the community from noise and cars. Rolf Disch uses urban integration concepts in all of his designs.


2008 German Sustainability Award
2007-08 Japanese PEN-Magazine Creativity Award
2006 Germany's most beautiful housing community
2005 Wuppertal Energy and Environment Prize
2003 Global Energy Award
2002 European Solar Prize

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