ParaSol - Multifunctional solar canopies for urban streets and places

With the city of Leoben as a use case this exploratory project will, for the first time ever, examine the spatial effects, synergy- and energy potentials of newly developed wide-span light-weight solar canopies for streets and squares in urban public space as well as their implications on the townscape, the image of the city and the city function.

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

A substantial part of our cities is utilized by areas of circulating and stationary traffic. Particularly outdoor car parks are environmentally rather unfriendly and occupy plenty of space. Not only do they seal the grounds and cause urban heat islands, they are almost always strictly monofunctional. Moreover, both, circulating and non-moving traffic cause noise and high infrastructure costs for maintenance and care.

Contents and goals

The ParaSol project is devoted to convert these inferior spaces to functionally and spatially valuable areas. Using the example of concrete public urban spaces within the city of Leoben the effects of newly developed solar-active canopies made of wide-span light-weight structures on the cityscape and the functions of the city will be investigated along with further synergies, especially energy potentials. Municipal parking lots as well as intra-urban transit routes and rail-tracks will be included in the exploration aiming at locating their potentials for decentralized electrical power supply.

The exploratory project is tended to prepare a follow-up research and development demonstration project in Leoben as regards substance and strategy. This R&D demo will - with the inclusion of local material knowledge - demonstrate the prototype application of already available as well as newly developed membrane, polymeric and thin glass material and photovoltaic technologies and/or combinations of technologies as part of the urban infrastructure and is meant to result in marketable product design and engineering.


Based on an interdisciplinary basic evaluation on spatial, constructive, functional, legal and energy related requirements, constraints and implications the general framework and potentials of urban space, urban function, material construction and solar power will be analyzed. The applicability of already available solutions in constructive and material matters will be investigated along with the need for new developments.

Urban space and function as well as architectural design will be incorporated as an equivalently environmentally relevant factor from the scratch. The objective is to methodically elaborate both functional and urban spatial criteria in addition to technical requirements as a footing for further decision making according to the use case as well as representative generalized cases.

The basic research will be followed by an integrative multiphase synthesis process using feedback loops to transform the matrix of disciplinary insights into transdisciplinary descriptions of potentials and developments. To attain this goal workshops with experts will be held to evaluate intermediate results and assumptions externally and expanding and clarifying the matrix of perception. Recommendations for action and on development, including a catalogue of criteria for the subsequent R&D demo-project complete the exploration.

Expected results

  • A fundamental interdisciplinary matrix of urbanistic and technical criteria and potential for multifunctional photovoltaic canopys in urban space
  • Transdisciplinary coordinated and assessed alternative solutions for solar-active canopies in public space
  • A catalogue of measures and criteria for the follow-up R&D demo project, including a roadmap,
  • The constitution of the consortium for the follow-up R&D demo project
  • The early initiation of planning and application processes for the follow-up R&D demo project

Project Partners

Project management

TU Graz - Institute of Urbanism

Project or cooperation partners

  • FH Salzburg - Smart Building & Smart Buildings in Smart Cities
  • WIL - Wirtschaftsinitiativen Leoben

Contact Address

Frau Prof. Aglaée Degros
Rechbauerstrasse 12
A-8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 (316) 873-6286
Fax: +43 (316) 873-6280