Modeling the Future (Preview)

How SPACE10’s SolarVille project is lighting the path to democratized access to clean energy

Children reading in a colorful space

Photo by Irina Boersma, Courtesy of Space10

By Susan Gladwin, Climate Tech Business Leader and Sustainability Strategist

The moment I laid eyes on SolarVille, (1) I fell in love. It brought back the enchantment cast by childhood train sets, a toy that lets us design a miniature world that sets things in motion.

SolarVille is a little wooden village, in perfect 1:50 scale, with the tiniest working, roof-mounted solar panels generating renewable electricity powered sunlight that lights up tiny light bulbs in each of its 20 different kinds of dwellings. In short, it’s really cute. Most amazingly, it automatically facilitates energy sharing between neighboring households. Through the connections of wires and blockchain technology, homes that don’t have panels and aren’t producing any energy automatically “purchase” from houses that have extra energy to share. 

SolarVille makes the abstract idea of a “self-sufficient community-driven microgrid” (2) real. It shows us what the concept would look and act like by making it as powerfully evocative as a toy… 


Cover of the Education Issue

From Design Museum Magazine Issue 020