No more living in the shadows

Gail Taylor
Tuesday 17 Mar 2015

NBBJ unveils revolutionary plans for the world’s first shadowless skyscraper

A new ‘No Shadow Tower’ designed by London-based international practice, NBBJ, is being proposed for a site on the city’s Greenwich Peninsula near the O2 Arena. The design aims to mitigate a major impact in the creation of tall buildings – namely long shadows - as demand for city living that offers light public spaces continues to grow.

If successful, the idea could revolutionise urban design in the rapidly developing cities of China and India. It would also help developers to gain planning permission in established western cities such as London and New York where the potential impact of new tall buildings on their surroundings is often a stumbling block.

Here’s how NBBJ’s ambitious new project would work if plans get the green light. Two high-rise buildings would work together to redirect sunlight, visibly reducing shadow at the most active place – the towers’ base – by about 60%. The twin wall façade would act as a solar chimney, causing a stack effect on the southern façade. Cold air would be drawn from the northern façade to cool the building.

The form of the towers has been derived from the sun angles over the year at the site location (51.4800° N, 0.0000° W). By using computational design, NBBJ has developed an algorithm that measures the sun incident angles during each day in a year and translates the results into the building form. 

Using a genetic algorithm, designers optimised this form further, using parameters such as even distribution of the reflected light, views of the Thames and a maximum of reflecting surface area. As the sun incident angles differ at every location on earth the result of the algorithm is unique to its location.

Under NBBJ’s proposals, the towers would be mixed use, organised with residential uses at higher levels and increasingly active uses towards the base. The ‘No Shadow Towers’ would benefit from a vertical village morphology with a 24/7 feel where residents could simply walk between home, shops and restaurants.

See the film about the plan: 

No Shadow Tower from nbbjdesign on Vimeo.

Gail Taylor


Features editor

Key Facts:

Urban design
United Kingdom

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