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New Eyes on Existing Buildings

Monday 20 May 2013

New Eyes on Existing Buildings

New Eyes on Existing Buildings by VELUX
Image: Sian Disson and World Architecture News 
New Eyes on Existing Buildings by VELUX New Eyes on Existing Buildings by VELUX New Eyes on Existing Buildings by VELUX New Eyes on Existing Buildings by VELUX
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International experts in daylighting design gather in Copenhagen for VELUX event 

Last week, over 300 architects, technologists, engineers, academics and journalists from around the world flew into Copenhagen for the fifth VELUX Daylight Symposium. Hosted by the daylight specialists at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen, the two-day event boasted a high calibre of expert speakers from Arup Director Peter Head CBE to James R Benya, PE, FIES, FIALD.

Over the next few weeks we will publishing a series of articles in News Review focused on daylighting, drawing from points made during the symposium. It goes without saying that sunlight has a demonstrable positive effect on our concentration, mental health and general wellbeing. Students are taught this, architects practice it, but there are a number of new technological discoveries presented at the symposium that may impact the way you approach your next project.

One of the highlights of the conference - and the talk that inspired much of the conversation at the evening dinner - was Michael Pawlyn’s exploration into the world of biomimicry. Having spent ten years at Grimshaw working on large-scale schemes such as the Eden Project, Pawlyn founded his own practice Exploration in 2007 to focus entirely on biomimicry.

In his speech, Pawlyn used a number of case studies to explain how we can effectively learn from evolution in nature and harness these complex developments to create highly efficient and ecologically sustainable architecture. One of these case studies was the Sahara Forest Project where Exploration took inspiration from the Namib Desert Beetle. This species manages to live in arid conditions by collecting water on its shell which then rolls into its mouth. The beetle has a shell of bumps with hydrophilic tips and hydrophobic sides, causing water to condense onto its shell from ocean fog.

It is from evolutionary marvels such as this that Exploration can embark on schemes like the Sahara Forest Project. This development - in partnership with Bill Watts and The Bellona Foundation - is designed to produce a large volume of renewable energy, food and water while reversing desertification. Exploration plans create a seawater-cooled greenhouse to act as a net producer of distilled water in combination with Concentrated Solar Power technology which will harness the sun’s heat to create steam to drive conventional turbines, producing zero carbon electricity twice as effectively as photovoltaic panels.

Other thought-provoking speakers included Deborah Burnett whose ‘Knowledge to practice, epigenetics and the built environment’ talk explained the science behind the physical effects of daylighting, and Kasper Guldager Jørgensens from 3XN who examined the futuristic technologies making this all possible today in his speech ‘New materials and green technologies for the cities’.

More details on these three topics will be published in News Review over the coming weeks.

Sian Disson
News Editor


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