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Architecture of Shade

Location: UK / Scope: Design and Prototype development of photovoltaic canopy, Competition 3rd Prize / Year: 1997-1998 / Publication: Book "Architecture of Shade", exhibited at RIBA Gallery in London / Photo credit © Andy Cameron

In response to concerns over growing number of people each year affected by Skin Cancer in UK, kinetic canopy structure was designed and proposed for children's playground to promote awareness to danger of the Sun. The kinetic structure, with use of counterbalance mechanism, allows the canopy to gently open and close with minimum amount of energy.

Scaled prototype units were built to study the kinetic mechanism and refined through iterations. Organic design appearance inspired by a flower attempt to capture the imagination of children and youth playing underneath the canopy in the open. The design proposal set out to tell narrative of a unique structure actively responding with the solar energy, opening to protect the space below through which the layering of the leaves allows dense shading (protection) or minimal protection.

A photovoltaic integrated in the counterweight component powers the motor controlling its movement, altering the balancing of larger canopy members with its own weight carefully distributed along its length. The ratio between the counterweight component controling arm and the canopy members multiplies the movement ratio, allowing smaller counterweight movement to create bigger rippling effects of canopy opening sequence.