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BI PV Project Details
Name project"Magic Box" solar house (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)
Year2007-02-01 (Start operation date)
PV applicationInclined roof - transparent roof,
Façade - transparent PV facade
PV power total8.1 kWp
LocationMadrid, Madrid
Latitude/Longitude40°50'53"N 3°43'23"W
© Estefanía Caamaño-Martín (UPM-IES)

Project summary
"Magic Box" is a prototype of energy self-sufficient solar house that represented Spain (and the European Union) in the "2005 Solar Decathlon" competition, an event promoted by the U.S. Department of Energy that gathered representatives of 18 universities all over the world which is . Main design premises of the project were: - “Active” Bioclimatic architecture: application of traditional strategies for winter and summertime, day and night, commonly used in Spanish vernacular architecture, implemented by means of new materials and systems. - Attractive integration of solar technologies (Photovoltaics and Solar thermal) and maximum exploitation of their multifunctional possibilities, as energy production and construction elements. - Rational use of building elements such as porches, greenhouses, green roofs, eaves, louvers, sliding panels, and even a “folding” patio. Due to the competition requirements, the PV system was autonomous from the grid and had to be equipped with batteries. To this aim, a commercial technology was selected for the power conditioning (based on AC-coupling principles) that enables both grid connection and autonomous operation mode.

Best practice project
"Magic Box" has received several awards, amongst others: - "Holcim award for Sustainable construction 2005" (Encouragement award). North America regional award granted by the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. - "European Solar Prize 2006" (Solar architecture), granted by EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energy.

Special PV project info
PV architecture and building integrationOne of the basic design premises has been to profit from the potential multi-functionality of the PV modules, overcoming the traditional division between bioclimatic architecture and solar technologies. This objective has resulted in breaking away from the traditional typology of solar homes, where the collectors are placed under the same tilt angle given by solar capture needs. In “Magic Box”, the roof is basically a system that captures and transforms solar energy into electricity and thermal energy. However, PV modules and hot water collectors rise in different plans with transparent structures, allowing to see any vegetation below, their physical support (trusses), or even to filter daylight into the house (PV façade).
PV ownership"Magic Box" and all embebbed systems and components is owned by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). Due to the innovative concepts involved in Architecture and Solar Engineering issues, it is managed by UPM personnel.
Tariffs and metering
The house is located inside the Universida Politécnica de Madrid Telecommunications Engineering School premises. Therefore, it is connected to the local Low Voltage grid, not to the public distribution grid.
Remarks and recommended readingQuality of life is the main goal of “Magic Box”. Movement and usability are the leading themes, with spaces that merge into each other or unfold by means of movable walls and spaces, opening up a broad range of perceptual and functional possibilities. All of these principles are employed to manage comfort conditions, light and air quality, to control solar penetration, ventilation and thermal storage, as well as to define formal composition and to treat light and colour. Electricity comes from an integrated PV system and heat accumulation is made possible through passive solar heating, solar collectors and free cooling at night in the summer. All indoor devices are operated through an automated control and monitoring system, making “Magic Box” a comfortable and appealing home. For more information see the documents: MagicBox_AddInfo_1.pdf, MagicBox_AddInfo_2.pdf

Other project data
Type of projectDemonstration Project
Other relevant aspectsZero-energy house
Start of PV project2006-01-01
Start operation PV system2007-02-01
Project leading companyUniversidad Politécnica de Madrid
Project contact personEstefanía Caamaño-Martín
Contact emailestefan@ies-def.upm.es
Contact addressInstituto de Energía Solar - ETSI Telecomunicación, Av. Complutense s/n, E-28040 Madrid
Part of Urban Scale project

Building data
Use and function of the buildingFacilities - educational
Building typeHouses - single house
New/Retrofit/AddedNew building integration
PV building addressETSI Telecomunicación, Av. Complutense s/n, E-28040 Madrid

PV system
PV applicationInclined roof - transparent roof,
Façade - transparent PV facade
PV power total project8.1 kWp
Number of dwellings/units1
PV power per dwellings/units8.1 kWp
PV system typeGrid-connected - demand side
PV module typeLaminates - transparent laminate
PV cell typeCrystalline silicon - mono
PV module brand and typeIsofotón I-110/12,
Isofotón I-110/24,
Isofotón I-55 (custom adapted),
Saint-Gobain Glass Solutions (custom made)
PV inverter brand and typeSMA SB-SWR 1700E,
SMA SI 4500
Includes PV database product(s) 

PV cost and energy production
PV system investment63400 Euro
PV modules only costs40200 Euro
PV energy yield
PV energy user ownerUniversidad Politécnica de Madrid

Names and Addresses
Building OwnerPV ownerArchitectMain PV manufacturer
NameUniversidad Politécnica de MadridUniversidad Politécnica de MadridUniversidad Politécnica de Madrid - Solar Decathlon Architecture teamIsofotón
AddressAv. Ramiro de Maeztu 7, E-28040 MadridAv. Ramiro de Maeztu 7, E-28040 MadridETS Arquitectura (Dpto. Construcción y Tecnología Arquit.), Av. Juan de Herrera 4, E-28040 Madridc/ Montalbán 9, E-28014 Madrid

Projects website
Other websites www.solardecathlon.org
Webpage Educational Tool

1. MagicBox_AddInfo_1.pdf (language: English)
2. MagicBox_AddInfo_2.pdf (language: English)

(bipv) building integrated pv, (PV) architecture, (PV) transparent modules, battery storage