No Shadow Skyscrapers Proposed

March 20, 2015

Proposed "No Shadow" skyscrapers by architecture firm NBBJ

Tall buildings are the signature architecture of all modern cities. They maximize the use of valuable land and provide opportunities for self contained, mixed use communities that often have retail establishments near street level, residential living quarters in the middle and office space above. They also do an excellent job of blocking sunlight and casting shadows on the ground around them.

NBBJ is recognized by Fast Company as one of the 10 most innovative architectural firms in the world. It has recently submitted a design proposal for two no shadow skyscrapers to be built at London’s Greenwich Peninsular. The towers would have curved, mirrored surfaces that reflect light at each other and down onto the land below. “The relationship between the sun and shadow is the relationship between the two buildings,” said Christian Coop, design director at NBBJ.

The exact curvature and placement of the glass on the facade of the buildings was determined using a powerful computer program called Rhinoceros which is able to calculate the the inter-relationship between the sun’s rays and the shape of the buildings for every hour of the day and every day of the year.

Rhinoceros program performs millions of calculations to assist in designing "no shadow" skyscrapers

The resulting design calls for buildings that are narrow at the base and get wider as they go up. The proposal would reduce the shadows between the buildings by 60%, making that area more amenable to outdoor green space where people could congregate. The project is about “improving the quality of our urban environment… finding a way in which we can have the tall buildings we need without losing natural light on the areas below,” says Coop. “The design ensures that the area between the towers is bright and pleasant, so is more likely to be used as a public space.”

The designers promise the reflected sunlight will be diffuse, unlike the infamous “Walkie-Talkie” building in London that concentrated the light into powerful radiation beams capable of melting the plastic components of vehicles parked on the streets below a few years ago

Will these no shadow skyscrapers actually get built?

Source: Architecture and Design Images via Wired


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Stephen Hanley

lives in Rhode Island and writes about topics at the convergence of technology and ecology. You can follow him on Google + and Twitter.
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