The Solar Biennale is intended as a platform for public research, where the audience becomes an active contributor in a continuous search for new answers. Its work revolves around questions of energy, whether that concerns the energy that goes into designing an object, or building a new society.Its extensive programme will be organised around four themes: the Personal, exploring our personal relationship and intimacy with solar energy; the Social, on how solar creates new relationships through sharing energy; the Spatial, investigating how solar integrates with our built environment; and the Environmental, which looks closely at the ecology and resources associated with solar.

“The Solar Biennale seeks to uncover a multiplicity of perspectives on solar futures,” said Matylda Krzykowski, speaking alongside van Aubel and Dongen at Design Miami/Basel. “It does not offer visitors a range of technocratic solutions. Instead, it suggests new experiences and new solar ethics, new dreams and new forms of living together that go beyond the doctrine of environmental exploitation.”

Het Nieuwe Instituut will form the central hub of the event, hosting the main exhibition that will bring together the work of artists, designers and scientists to inspire and inform visitors about solar energy. 

Offsite, a seminar will invite professionals from the design, science and technology fields in hopes of fostering a cross-pollination of ideas, and a series of workshops will allow people to work on solar projects. Although the exhibition takes the Netherlands as its main context and starting point, it will present beautiful examples exploring the potential of solar energy from across the globe. Visitors will be invited to immerse themselves, interacting and engaging with new forms of living in a solar society, and finally rethinking their behaviour.By programming the exhibition in autumn, when days get shorter in the northern hemisphere, Het Nieuwe Instituut deliberately incorporates an additional design challenge in the application of solar energy in this region.

“The time for distracting ourselves with unworkable silver-bullet solutions is over,” says the institute's General and Artistic Director, Aric Chen. "In recognising that the issue of energy is not just technical but also social, cultural, and political, the biennale will offer new ways of not just thinking about solar futures, but perhaps also of navigating towards them.”