Negative Shadowing

Reading of the £200M Walkie Talkie skyscraper in London which is nearing completion is creating a ‘Negative Shadow’ ; it’s concave façade has the right design parameters to focus sun light on to an area of the street where the local council has closed parking on after a light was strong enough to melt the exterior of a car parked on the street.

Graphic showing the focusing of the sun

Graphic showing the focusing of the sun

Focused sun light uncomfortable for passes by

Focused sun light uncomfortable for passes by

After hearing this I did some quick investigations and discovered this design (flaw) has occurred several times before;

MARRIOTT HOTEL INDIANAPOLIS;

The curved façade has the same issue, however not as serious,

Non focused reflections

Non focused reflections

focus sun light

focus sun light

VDARA HOTEL; LAS VEGAS

More serious than the Marriott, there has been complaints that because of an architectural flaw, the sun’s rays are being magnified and reflected onto an area of the pool, causing severe burns. There have been reports that even plastic has melted from the heat.  This flaw has even had a spoof trailer has been made regarding the issue [youtube link].

 

IS THIS A RARE COINCIDENT OR DESIGN ERROR?

I guess we won’t really know (is there a difference?); however as it is claimed that “reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has been the primary environmental aim“ of the building (Hagon, 2013), it needs discussion of the role by which buildings brief is cited.  Should the buildings pursuit of improved environmental performance be one without consideration of the effect that it has on the surrounding environment?  Arguably a pursuit in environmental awareness is to play a role in the surrounding community.  Yes reducing CO2 is a global issue, but the intention should be driven from a community outcome.  An example of this community perspective is the provision of reward points within the GBCA Green Star where a project is awarded points for returning land back to the original vegetation state (credit Eco-4) which has already been developed on the site.

Graphic of theXXX

Graphic of the Vdara

HOW COULD THIS BE USED TO ADVANTAGE?

A developer in Melbourne has proposed to use something similar (however reason for the concept is to aid in development approval and creation of light shafts, not environment), (Perkins, 2012).To see initiative and designs that take advantage of designs that reflect ‘controlled’ light into regions (that are public gardens and parks) which are shadowed by other buildings would be great.

OTHER DESIGN CHARACTERISTICS THAT EFFECT THEIR MICRO-ENVIRONMENTS

–    Bird safe designs:- San Francisco planning department has developed design standards [link];

–    Wind:- the shape of the building has effect of winds, enhancing or dissipating winds tunnels,

–    Artificial lighting:- lights at night disturb nocturnal animals & insects natural patterns.

References

Google, 2013. Google Maps. [Online]
Available at: www.maps.google.com
[Accessed 04 September 2013].
Hagon, T., 2013. Sun reflecting from skyscraper ‘melts’ parked Jaguar. [Online]
Available at: http://news.drive.com.au/drive/motor-news/sun-reflecting-from-skyscraper-melts-parked-jaguar-20130903-2t1om.html
[Accessed 04 September 2013].
Maimon, A. & Whitely, J., 2010. Vdara visitor: ‘Death ray’ scorched hair. [Online]
Available at:http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/vdara-visitor-death-ray-scorched-hair
[Accessed 04 September 2013].
Perkins, M., 2012. Developer wants to let the sunshine in and it will all be done with mirrors. [Online]
Available at: http://theage.domain.com.au/developer-wants-to-let-the-sunshine-in-and-it-will-all-be-done-with-mirrors-20121031-28kc0.html
[Accessed 04 September 2013].
San Francisco Planning Department, 2011. Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings. [Online]
Available at: http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2506
[Accessed 04 September 2013].
Whipple, T., 2013. How London’s burning in the glare of great glass tower the Walkie Talkie. [Online]
Available at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article3858974.ece
[Accessed 04 September 2013].
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