Canadian Architect


TeamMTL to compete in 2018 Solar Decathlon Competition in China

May 15, 2017
by Shannon Moore

Image courtesy of Team MTL

Image courtesy of Team MTL

McGill and Concordia Universities have teamed up to form TeamMTL and will compete in the 2018 Solar Decathlon China competition to be held in July 2018 in Dezhou, Shandong Province. The Montreal-based team is comprised of students and faculty from multiple departments from the two institutions led by the McGill School of Architecture.

The competition is an international showcase of collegiate innovation of design and construction. It includes 21 teams representing 11 countries and 49 universities. TeamMTL is the only Canadian team. In addition to the competition, a public exhibition of the houses is expected to attract three million visitors over three months. The home will remain in Dezhou as part of a permanent Innovation Park dedicated to high-performance building and renewable energy research and innovation.

Conceptual design began a year ago and the competition building will be constructed and displayed in Montreal this coming summer beginning in late-May. Tours, media and fundraising events will be held July through September as part of city’s 375th celebration and Canada’s 150th anniversary programming before dismantling, packing, and shipping the building to China by the end of the year.

Image courtesy of Team MTL

Image courtesy of Team MTL

TeamMTL’s entry, entitled the Deep Performance Dwelling (DPD), is a net-zero energy capable home that uses Passive House-inspired design and a Building Integrated Photovoltaic Thermal (BIPV/T) system to ensure high-performance capability through passive and active systems, superior indoor air quality, and reduced energy demand of 70 per cent to 80 per cent. “Deep-Performance” implies a socially, culturally, and technologically advanced architecture that embodies qualitative and quantitative notions of performance in addressing energy efficiency, comfort, wellbeing, affordability, environmental sustainability, and ecological awareness.

This unique urban model is designed for the Montreal context and is based on the proven row house typology that is further fused with the siheyuan style courtyard common in China. It is conceived for maximum flexibility and adaptability to address contemporary living allowing for expanding family compositions, live/work scenarios, sharing economy opportunities, and inter-generational living. The home integrates interactive media to monitor and aesthetically inform residents of their consumption patterns to raise awareness of environmental impact. It is largely a regionally sourced construction using traditional construction techniques.

Image courtesy of Team MTL

Image courtesy of Team MTL

The team is designing versions for the Chinese and Canadian markets and supply chains with the goal to create an affordable, NZE-capable 2,000 sq.ft. residence in both countries. It employs innovative prefabrication techniques in collaboration with its industry partner Ecocor to panelize the Passive House certified envelope for shipping to China. Affordability is a key objective for TeamMTL as the cost of housing in Canada’s major cities has become unsustainable. The intention is to build 1-3 versions of the DPD in Montreal after the competition with partner contributions and proceeds from the competition including the sale of the house to the City of Dezhou. These buildings will be given to families in need of affordable housing and be used in a long-term monitoring “living lab” research program.

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, recently announced a $50,000 grant from Natural Resources Canada’s Program for Energy Research and Development (PERD) to help TeamMTL participate in the Solar Decathlon China 2018. TeamMTL will be exhibiting at the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Festival of Architecture happening May 24 to 27 in Ottawa. For more information on TeamMTL’s design, progress, fundraising efforts, and upcoming events please see

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