Selfie of Wolfgang Vidal, the NexusHaus sunshading team leader.
One of Wolfgang's interests outside of Solar Decathlon 2015 include playing with his band.
Give us a little background about yourself.
A: I was born in the idyllic medieval city of Regensburg, Bavaria, but practically spent all my life in Munich. My dad is from Germany (rather Bavaria, a region in the south of Germany) and my mom is French. I have family in both countries and spent a great deal of time in France. So I grew up with a nice contrast of two completely different cultures and languages. I have virtually become a “cultural schizophrenic.” So whenever something goes wrong, blame it on my French side. Whenever I have a bad sense of humor, blame it on both sides.
What is your role on the UT-TUM team?
A: I am part of the sun shading team working on the canopy and membrane structure that provides the sun protection and rainwater collection for Nexushaus. We started as a group of five; Ariel Padilla and Julian Debo from UT; Cibele de Avila and Bruna Ferramenta from TUM. When Ariel and Julian went back to Austin in December, I took over Ariel’s role as team leader of our group – it’s always good to be the boss! We always had a good time in our group, a reason to laugh about even the most stupid things (German jokes included), and we never found a reason to be angry with each other.
Why did you join Solar Decathlon?
A: When I did my ERASMUS (European Union (EU) student exchange programme) year in Grenoble, France, I heard about the SolarD competition for the first time. It was when my school, l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Grenoble, as part of Team Rhône-Alpes, won the European SolarD 2012 competition in Madrid. Unfortunately I wasn’t participating, but the concept of SolarD fascinated me so much that, two years later, I took the chance to join the TUM/UT team. This time I wanted to “sit in the boat,” not just watch it from the outside as I did two years before.
I mean planning a house that you’re going to build in the U.S.A. by yourself, even a literature student would agree, is more exciting than reading a book. I’ve always searched for ways to bring aspects of sustainability, energy efficiency and climate responsive building into my architecture studies but was disappointed during the years. In general the emphasis is put on aesthetic and functional design aspects. Environmental issues are mostly inferior or at least second-rank, meaning if you’re an idealist, you’re not in the best position. When I started my Master’s degree last October, I was lucky to realize that the Master’s degree provides far more possibilities to do sustainable building, and Solar Decathlon was the perfect thing for me. It gives you the opportunity to contribute to something valuable.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience so far?
A: Definitely the skype calls between UT and TUM. There’s nothing better than a decent skype call at 6 pm that leads to heaps of valuable results!!! (irony could be hidden in this sentence)
Well, let’s be serious now. What I enjoyed most was to have the students from UT here in Munich and in our studio! An awesome group of 12 veterans who were so strong and brave that they even survived the bad smells of the Mensa building/studio! I think we all shared good moments (of course, the parties included – the halloween thing was fun!) and made friends with each other. It was a sad moment when everyone left.
And of course I enjoyed the time with the TUM students from Germany, Brazil, Japan and Europe. Concerning the professional and ”serious” part of the work, I mostly enjoyed working on the membrane, building the small scale model of our membrane frame and testing the different materials. I also enjoyed getting in contact with the different companies because this was something I’ve never done before.
How do you like living in Munich?
A: Munich is like a love-hate relationship. It depends on where you are, where you go in Munich and of course how you spend your time there. I absolutely love the place where I grew up as a child and where I spent my youth. I love the green sites of Munich, the parks, the river banks and especially the districts of Munich that are not that well-known and crowded. Munich is my home, and it’s here that I have my roots even though I was not born here. Although I already lived in other parts of this planet, Munich has always brought me back to my roots. I feel a deep connection with Bavaria in general, the surrounding areas, the close distance to the mountains and last but not least: I have all my family and best friends here in Munich and in other parts of Bavaria.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: In the top 10 charts with my band, of course. You’ll see, we’ll be bigger than the Beatles!!!
Who is your favorite architect?
A: I don’t have a favorite one. For me, it’s not about architects, it’s about architecture styles. I mostly appreciate traditional styles like the Japanese one or the traditional German ”Fachwerkhaus” (a type of wooden truss structure). I think traditional architecture is the one we can learn most from and that’s why I appreciate it so much.
Where do you want to visit most?
A: The U.S.A. of course – see you there in October!