The Berlin-based Barkow Leibinger, with the help of the Boston-based architect of record Sasaki, has created the adaptable, translucent ArtLab for Harvard. As the university expands across the river into Boston’s Allston neighborhood, they’ve been developing an ArtYard—a contemporary, arts-focused answer to the walled Harvard Yard in Cambridge. Barkow Leibinger’s brief was to create an adaptable, net-zero-energy building that offered space to meet the many programmatic needs of different disciplines working side-by-side. The 9,000-square-foot ArtLab is arranged in a pinwheel configuration, providing spaces for artmaking, research, classes, and performances. It also has studios for artists-in-residence, a sound lab and recording studios, and an open workshop in the building’s center. “We were designing the building, but also designing the programming,” explained Frank Barkow, cofounder of Barkow Leibinger. “Different programs had to be in close adjacency to each other: studios, workshops, film editing suites, those sort of things.” Previously, disparate creative fields were spread across the campus, many with limited space, said Barkow. In the ArtLab, “different arts are in close proximity to each other,” he said. “You've got fine artists working close to film, close to performance, close to dance. It was important that the ArtLab acting as an incubator with different creative practices in close proximity to each other.” The ArtLab also had to be temporary, or at least portable. Made of a steel frame that’s been mechanically fastened and clad in insulated glass and polycarbonate panels, the building is not only lightweight in visual character, but in physical design. Placed on grade on a concrete slab, it can be quickly dis- and re-assembled as the spatial needs of the expanding campus evolve. “It’s what I call basic Kmart construction,” joked Barkow. “It’s open web, steel joints, glazing, polycarbonate, chipboard, plywood. It’s quite simple.” He added that the firm is used to designing factories and inflected the art building with an industrial element. “It’s robust. They can knock it around. They can beat it up. In a way, it’s much less precious than the historical buildings that make up much of the Harvard campus.” While a polycarbonate envelope is common for industrial construction in Europe, it’s used less frequently in the United States, which was a challenge for the local architects of record. Sasaki undertook “a lot of research and testing,” according to Sasaki principal Lan Ying Ip. “To our knowledge, there has never been a net-zero building designed with a polycarbonate facade,” she said. Sasaki’s director of technical resources, Brad Prestbo, added that when working with the material “all the fundamental design moves that you normally make really have quite an impact on the overall performance of the envelope.” Sasaki also worked to create a custom system that could meet the solar heat metrics required by the energy model. And, not only is the continuous envelope well-insulated, but every aspect of the building is electric-powered by photovoltaic cells on the roof and requires no fossil fuels for heating. The polycarbonate was used throughout as both a barrier wall and as part of a rain screen assembly. “Oftentimes, the same piece of polycarbonate would transition between those two states,” explained Prestbo. The project had to use both opaque and transparent polycarbonate to hide mechanical elements and while creating an overall translucent effect, and making it appear as a “light box” at night. More than purely aesthetic, transparency is also a guiding conceptual feature. “[Harvard] wanted the building to be a kind of mediator between the neighborhood’s community and the campus,” explained Barkow. “It’s meant to be open. It's meant to be inviting. The public can come in and see what’s going on.”
Posts tagged with "Photovoltaic Panels":
As sustainability continues to enter the fore in design decisions, there has been an increased push to make photovoltaic technology more aesthetically adaptable, moving away from just the standard array of blue solar panels installed on rooftops. Tesla’s troubled Solarglass Roof has promised to look just like standard shingles and UNSense, the tech spinoff of UNStudio, has been hard at work on a Solar Visuals project that allows for solar-power-generating cladding to come in many colors and patterns. Now another Dutch company, MyEnergySkin, has unveiled a new attempt at making solar power more appealing, with a collaboration with Dutch designers Kiki and Joost. “Design is usually thought of as a discipline based on aesthetics, but it has the power to be more than that,” the eponymous design duo of Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk explained over email. “This is especially true when you work on a project like solar panels. Treating the project as if they were “creating a new material, rather than just patterns,” Kiki and Joost designed eight tiles for the company, two for roofs and six for facades, with visuals inspired by the natural and designed world. The roof tile solar panels resemble something like etched, mottled metals—iron and copper—with a reflective finish. The tiles for facades, on the other hand, derive their aesthetics from a range of sources; one looks like abstract falling leaves, another like thick globs of brushed paint, and another like stone segmented into bricks. “The facade tiles are exciting because building facades with solar tiles is unspoiled territory,” the pair said. “Thanks to new printing techniques the potential is big.” They say that they hope that solar tiles would become just as common as brick or wood on the sides of buildings in the future. Their goal as designers, they reported, was in part asking “how can we make something so beautiful that every building surface would use it?” The panels are made of tempered glass and can generate 120 watts of energy per square meter, putting their output just below a standard rooftop mass-market solution. “It was a long and physical process,” Kiki and Joost said of designing the printed panels, “but we are very satisfied by the result and the promising future in developing clean energy.”
The New York and Seoul–based Obra Architects, along with Front Inc., Obra Abrim, Dongsimwon Landscape, and Supermass Studio, have created an oasis of “perpetual spring” in a public courtyard in Seoul. Supported by Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art as part of their exhibition The Square: Art and Society, the experimental pavilion features 150 polycarbonate “eyes” that look into a lush venue full pf weather designed to be blissful year-round. This Climate Correcting Machine does away with fall and winter to comment on the ongoing climate crisis and how environmental conditions shape how we coexist with one another. The high-concept greenhouse uses an adaptable climate control system with photovoltaic panels on the museum’s roof powering exhaust fans, aluminum curtains, and phase-change radiant floor-heating to keep the space in constant vernal equilibrium. A garden, one that normally could only survive outdoors in spring, will be growing throughout the colder months while digital displays provide info to visitors on global environmental data. The architects suggest that the season of spring is conducive not only to happiness and socializing, but to progressive values, debate, and organizing, citing events like the 1968 Prague Spring and the 2010 Arab Spring. In that spirit, the installation is designed to be a gathering point and venue for programming such as lectures, readings, and performances, as well as discussion groups. “There can be a lot of elitism in how museums are curated, this opens it up to anyone,” explained Obra principal Pablo Castro. In addition, various guests have been invited to discuss issues related to democracy and the ongoing climate emergency. The Climate Correcting Machine is a prototype for a larger “project with a capital P,” according to Castro. “We’re not building a particular space, but a deployable system.” Future systems, which are being developed along with Front and Arup, would have even more automated technologies, heating walls, and feature sensors both inside and at a distance that operate HVAC and lighting systems by taking into account approaching weather and “climactic inertia.”
UNStudio has spun off its own startup, UNSense, to focus on architectural technology and large-scale design problems. “UNSense is completely dedicated to sensory and speculative design,” UNStudio cofounder Caroline Bos told the British publication CLAD, “It’s quite exploratory.” UNSense, according to the company’s website, “combines design thinking and data technology" to create solutions at the scales of buildings, neighborhoods, and cities. The firm has currently organized UNSense into two service sections: “Design\Strategies” and “Arch Tech Solutions.” UNSense’s Design\Strategies services are intended to help municipalities realize themselves as smart cities. “Sensorial technologies afford us the opportunity to fully understand how people use the city while living, relaxing, working, and commuting. Such data-based insights into human behavior can be used as a foundation to continuously improve and equip the city according to the needs of its users,” the company explained. Not merely speculative, it's already at work with a number of Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, as well as abroad in Milan, Osaka, and Bangalore. Other projects include feasibility studies to create a “living lab” out of a 100-house smart district in the Netherlands and tech-forward transformations around the Amsterdam Arena. The Arch Tech Solutions are projects sometimes produced in collaboration with tech companies. Projects include UNSense's recent Solar Visuals product, a photovoltaic cladding system developed as part of the Dutch Solar Design consortium and which won the Clean Energy Challenge put on by What Design Can Do this spring. Like UNStudio, UNSense is conceived as interdisciplinary, and its staff and collaborators includes everyone from architects and urban designers to data scientists and philosophers. “At UNSense we don’t believe in technology for the sake of technology,” its website says. “We think the combination of data and design creates a powerful force to improve the living conditions for people, and to ultimately create buildings and cities that are more humane, healthy, clean, safe, sustainable, and benefiting the environment.”
While solar panels have become increasingly common, the ones usually found on rooftops and the like can convert at most between 17 and 19 percent of received solar energy to usable electricity. This average yield has plateaued, increasingly only about 3.5 percent since the 2000s. More efficient panels are available, like those used on satellites, but they remain cost prohibitive. Insolight, a Swiss startup from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), claims to have developed a scalable alternative, however. The company's new technology uses the same high-efficiency cells found in orbiting satellites but assembled in such a way that minimizes cost differences. Insolight's Mathieu Ackermann, Laurent Coulot, and Florian Gerlich have constructed arrays of very small versions of these high-efficiency cells, mounted with an optical magnifier that concentrates sunlight around 100 times, resulting in cells that take up less than .5 percent of the panel’s surface area but harvest a much larger percentage of the light hitting the panel. Most concentrator-operated solar systems require constant maneuvering to be tilted towards the sun. In order to maximize efficiency without requiring new mounting technology or complicated tilting mechanics, each of the cells is detailed so that it can make tiny, millimeter-level movements to position itself to track the sun without all the cost, space, and reliability issues found in many already available concentrator systems. Insolight's “microtracking” can reportedly capture 100 percent of the light that hits it, regardless of its angle of incidence. The ultra-thin panels can be mounted similarly to any traditional photovoltaic cell, even in a hybrid array layered with standard panels, which is especially useful for cloudy days. The panels spent a year on the roofs of an EPFL pilot site and worked “without a hitch,” according to the trio. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, Insolight projects that the panels could cut electricity bills by as much as 30 percent, as well as provide a greater return on investment than other commercially-available solar options. The company hopes to bring its first products to the market in 2022. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit techplusexpo.com/nyc/.
Brought to you with support fromThe Bell Labs Holmdel Complex, completed by Eero Saarinen in 1962, is a sprawling former research building clad in reflective glass and topped with a quarter-mile-long roof. After approximately a decade of real estate juggling, the property was purchased by New Jersey's Somerset Development in 2013, which began an extensive renovation of the property, including the replacement of the roof with the largest photovoltaic glass skylight in the United States. In December 2018, The Architect's Newspaper took a private tour of the renowned mid-century research lab with Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker. Much of the interior is still under a painstaking conversion designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects into contemporary tech-focused office space.
glass subjected to 24 different glazings and assembled in a series of ridges. Replacing the windows was fairly straightforward; the original glass was removed, then the existing frames were cleaned and then fitted with advanced weather strips to seal the building-integrated photovoltaics. However, the sheer scale of the project and its historic importance required unique approaches to the installation of the glass panels. The installation team had to carefully install the right glazing in the correct bay and row. “To mitigate this risk, we created a model of each of the three sky roofs and identified every glazing and the position of the glazing with each bay and row of the sky roof,” said Bell Works Chief Energy Officer/Chief Technology Officer Joel Shandelman. "This model ensured we had the exact number of each glazing and the respective permanent position of the skyroof.” The panels are composed of a central silicon film of photovoltaic glass laminated on both sides by tempered safety glass—providing the added benefit of reducing solar heat gain with a 20 percent visual light transmittance. In total, the approximately 60,000 square-foot glass installation annually generates nearly 90,000 kilowatt hours. In June 2017, after the skylight installation, the complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places.The atrium skylight consists of 3,200 panes of
ETH Zürich’s high-tech showhome opened its doors this past week. The three-story DFAB HOUSE has been built on the NEST modular building platform, an Empa– and Eawag–led site of cutting-edge research and experimentation in architecture, engineering, and construction located in Dübendorf, Switzerland. The 2,150-square-foot house, a collaboration with university researchers and industry leaders, is designed to showcase robotics, 3-D printing, computational modeling, and other technologies and grapple with the interconnected issues of ecology, economy, and architecture. One of the central innovations is using robots that build onsite, rather than create prefabricated pieces in a factory. This In Situ Fabricator (IF) technology, an autonomous “context-aware mobile construction robot,” helps minimize waste and maximize safety during the construction process. To generate concrete geometries not permitted by conventional construction techniques, such as curvilinear shapes that minimize material use, researchers devised a Mesh Mould technology that was built with the aid of vision system–equipped robots. The robots fabricated a structure that acts as both formwork and structural support, a curved steel rebar mesh. The mesh is then filled with concrete, which it acts as a support to. In the DFAB HOUSE, the Mesh Mould is realized as a 39-foot wall, a main load-bearing component of the house, which is able to carry around 100 tons. Despite its complexity—it has 335 layers with over 20,000 welding points—the robot took just 125 hours to construct the mesh. https://youtu.be/ZeLEeY8yK2Y Cantilevered over the Mesh Mould is the so-called Smart Slab, a 3-D printed concrete formwork that supports the timber structure above. Many of the concrete forms in the home are built with what the researchers are calling Smart Dynamic Casting, an automated prefabrication technology. Robotic prefabrication is also used to make the Spatial Timber Assemblies that comprise the upper two levels of the home. The timber structure was devised as part of a collaboration between the university, Gramazio Kohler Research, and ERNE AG Holzbau, who used computational design to generate timber arrangements to fit into the larger structure. The timber assemblies also permit the creation of stiff structures that don’t require additional reinforcement. Applied onto the structure, the hyper-efficient facade is made of membranes of cables, translucent insulating Aerogel, and aluminum. In addition to all the new technology that went into building the DFAB HOUSE, it will also be a “smart home,” using what the researchers are calling the “digitalSTROM platform,” which includes “intelligent, multi-stage burglar protection, automated glare, and shading options, and the latest generation of networked, intelligent household appliances.” It also includes voice control for many of the home’s operations from turning on a kettle to operating blinds. Energy management is also a centerpiece of the home, with rooftop photovoltaic panels featuring a smart control system. Additionally, heat exchangers in the shower trays recover the warmth of shower water, and hot water from faucets is fed back into the boiler when it’s not in use. Not only does it conserve energy and water, it also prevents bacterial growth in the pipes. The radical use of technology in the DFAB HOUSE is also about optimization and efficiency: the home, with all its undulating formwork and translucent geometries, has been designed to demonstrate how new technology can develop and advance its own aesthetic language to make truly pleasing, compelling spaces. It will also be put to the test. Soon academic guests will be moving in and give life in the DFAB HOUSE a shot. For those who can’t make it to Switzerland, the project will also be presented during Swissnex in San Francisco.
Brought to you with support fromSolar panels are increasingly ubiquitous across a broad range of recent and ongoing projects. For the most part, this technology is applied along rooflines or as standalone installations supplying the energy demands of an adjacent complex. Completed in 2017, C.F. Møller’s Copenhagen International School bucks this trend with a facade composed of thousands of solar panels. The Copenhagen International School is located in the city’s fast-growing Nordhavn district, a significant harbor area undergoing a range of mixed-use development. The school, surrounded by looming cranes and shipping containers, is not out of place with its box-like massing.
photovoltaic panels produced by Danish manufacturer SolarLab. The panels, which additionally function as a rain screen cladding, are all colored the same shade of blue-green. Each panel is slightly angled and treated with a nanogel to add a layer of dynamism to what would otherwise be a static facade format, which gives the effect of different colors and shading due to shifting environmental conditions. Each panel is approximately 2.5 square feet in area, and are mechanically held in place by a system of glass rails and aluminum cassettes, pitching each panel at an angle of 4° in relation to the facade. In total, the panels have a surface area of just over 65,000 square feet. For the most part, the panels are formed of 16 solar cells linked by tinned copper threads. The facade is split into eight-panel modules, each connected to independent inverters suspended under the ceiling throughout the building, converting the solar energy into an alternating current of 230 Volts. In total, the panels are estimated to produce 300 MWh per year, fulfilling 50% of the school's energy requirements. In 2017, the project was awarded Germany's Iconic Award, noting the school's innovative facade cladding, and C. F. Møller is currently designing a trio of floating classrooms adjacent to the Copenhagen International School.According to the architects, the overall focus of the new masterplan for the district emphasized the use of sustainable energy embedded in a newly built network of roads, commuter stations, bike paths, and pedestrian paths. After testing the practicality of water and wind energy, solar energy was chosen as the most suitable for the school's needs. Rising from a ground flour base, the school building is divided into four educational towers ranging in height from five to seven stories. The facade of this unique arrangement is composed of over 12,000 custom-designed
Hot on the heels of the world's first underwater resort opening in the Maldives, an upscale hotel has opened a building with a distinctive solar panel roof on a private island in the Indian Ocean archipelago. New York's Yuji Yamazaki Architecture (YYA), which also created the submarine building, designed the new destination, known as the Kudadoo Maldives Private Island. The architects claim that the 320-kilowatt-peak (kWp) capacity of the roof system is enough to power the entire resort and that the system will recoup its cost after five years of use. Other design touches, like gaps between the panels to allow filtered interior daylighting and an extensive canopy overhang for shading, aim to minimize power use. The Maldives, a low-lying collection of atolls in the middle of the ocean, are exceptionally sensitive to climate change and any subsequent sea-level rise. Some studies estimate that islands like the Maldives may be uninhabitable by the middle of the century as rising sea levels flood aquifers, damage infrastructure, and submerge livable space. This makes the use sustainable power sources like solar panels particularly salient for the area. YYA chose to celebrate the panels on the roof rather than minimizing them or trying to camouflage them among other materials. Visitors will primarily approach the resort by plane, and the panels will be one of the first things they see. Of course, rooms at the private island don't come cheap. A recent search showed rooms starting at $2400 a night.
On Wednesday May 9, the California Energy Commission will vote on whether or not to require solar panels on new homes. The standard is expected to pass and would apply to all single and multi-family homes up to three stories tall as of January 2020. Exceptions will be made for shaded structures or in situations where it is impractical to install panels and offsets can be used for other solutions, such as re-charging batteries like Tesla’s Powerwall. Homes will not have to reach net-zero status (that is, relying completely on the solar panels for all energy), but is still expected to San Francisco already requires solar panels on all new buildings under 10 stories tall—statewide about 15 to 20 percent of new single family homes rely on solar energy. As California is the world’s fifth largest economy, the massive sales-boost that would result in this measure should not only lower the cost of solar panels in the state, but across the U.S. Installing solar panels will make it approximately $25,000 to $30,000 more expensive to build homes than those built under the 2006 code. However, homeowners are expected to save $50,000 to $60,000 over 25 years. While some have pointed out that this could make California’s housing shortage situation even more dire by raising housing costs, the energy–saving benefits (and California’s increasingly wealthy population) may outnumber the naysayers. This is the most recent of California’s sustainability measures as it continues to push toward a more environmentally friendly future, including filing a lawsuit against the EPA from lowering vehicle emission standards.
Let’s face it: no one has ever characterized a solar panel as being particularly attractive. In fact, they’re eyesores. While the environmental and business cases for photovoltaics are relatively easy to make, their aesthetic dimension has long been a losing proposition. “In states like California, solar is half the price of the local utility, even without subsidies,” explained Ido Salama, co-founder of Sistine Solar. “At the same time, it feels like all solar products look the same: they come in either black or blue, and, while solar panels work great, many people would describe them as ugly. At the very least, they look out of place on a roof,” he added. Rather than attempting to convince people to appreciate solar for what it is, Salama and company set out to build a solar panel that appeals to their sense of aesthetics instead. To that end, Sistine Solar introduced its SolarSkin technology—described on the company’s website as “solar with curb appeal”—in 2013 when its developers won the renewables track of the MIT Clean Energy Prize. Since launching SolarSkin, the company recently introduced its online Design Studio platform to allow anyone to design, customize, and price a solar installation.
How it worksDeveloped by MIT engineers, SolarSkin is a thin film specially coated with ultra-durable graphics and integrated onto high-efficiency solar panels. The technology employs selective light filtration to simultaneously display an image and transmit sunlight to the underlying solar cells with minimal loss in efficiency. The product is available in any number of colors and patterns, is compatible with every major panel manufacturer, and is available for both new and existing roofs. The end result is essentially a kind of camouflage for the typically drab photovoltaic panel. Sistine Solar’s new SolarSkin Design Studio is an online tool that allows architects, designers, and homeowners alike to design and order a customized solar system from a desktop computer or mobile phone. With a $99 refundable deposit, end users will receive a preliminary system design using LIDAR mapping, a detailed panel layout, guaranteed production figures, a realistic rendering, (where suitable image is available), and guaranteed delivery within 90 days. The Design Studio is intended to get customers more excited about solar, according to Salama. “Homeowners appreciate the transparency, customizability, and especially the ability to match their solar panels to their roof,” he said. “Architects and designers love it because for the first time, they have a product that allows them to showcase solar in a way never before possible—integrated, congruent, harmonious." In spite of the improvement to aesthetics, however, solar technology still faces a number of challenges in terms of market transformation. “Soft costs is one barrier,” he said. “Solar is so complex because every municipality has different rules when it comes to permitting solar.” Noting that it may take one to three days to physically install and wire up a solar system, Salama points out that it can take up to three months to get a permit. “If soft costs could be reduced—like streamlining the permitting process—we would see a radical transformation in adoption,” he suggested. Of course, affordable storage is an ongoing issue with solar technology. “When solar and storage become more economical than buying from the local utility, we will see a huge shift towards distributed generation and plenty of homeowners cutting the cord,” Salama predicted. Now that solar panels are eligible for a makeover, however, there’s one less hurdle to overcome—making the future of solar technology a little more attractive.
Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Rüssli Architekten, has been selected by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) to design the organization’s new Geneva Operational Center. The winning proposal’s playful design was selected unanimously over international proposals from Pool Architekten & Mak Architecture, Sauerbruch Hutton, Emilio Tuñon Arquitectos and Ruckstuhl Architekten, Blue Architects, and Consortium Sou Foujimoto with The New Talent Workshop. Broken up into several distinct cubic volumes and clad in a boldly colored photovoltaic glass curtain-wall facade, the building has been nicknamed “Colors of Humanity.” Much more than a decorative element, the glass is composed of 40-percent-transparent solar cells. By changing the color and permeability of the glass across the Operational Center, the facade can shade, cool and power the building all at once while still allowing operable windows. When combined with the more efficient photovoltaic panels nestled within the roof garden, and the Geneva district Genilac lake water loop, 72 percent of the building’s electricity will be self-produced. Providing workstations, meeting rooms, classrooms, and social spaces for over 250 Doctors Without Borders employees, the design also offers an inherently flexible approach to programming. By overlaying criss-crossing passages throughout the interior with seated alcoves and meeting spaces, the firm set out to spur spontaneous conversation and collaboration among the many different types of staff. “These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building,” Steven Holl Architects explained. Providing support for more than 6,300 employees across 23 countries, the Center will house several other international project teams such as the “International Office,” the international secretariat, which includes activities related to the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, and various pilot projects. Keeping the diversity of the organization’s work in mind, the Center’s form and photovoltaic systems were designed with the possibility of expansion in the future. “Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future," said Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the Geneva Operational Center, in a prepared statement. With an expected start date of spring 2019, the Geneva Operational Center will neighbor the Higher International Studies and Development, designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates, and the Terra and Casa Foundation expatriate housing by Bonnard Woeffray Architectes.