Get Smart

Façade detail of the “Smartcity Barcelona” pavilion

A façade design in which photovoltaic panels end up casting shadows upon other photovoltaic panels does not seem to me to be the “smartest” design idea. “Form follows energy” is the catchy slogan of the “Smartcity Barcelona” pavilion’s project statement (a research collaboration between Endesa and the IaaC), which attempts to explain an idea that actually makes perfect sense and that is indeed intelligent: why not use photovoltaic panels in conjunction with windowsas window awningsso that solar heat gain into a building is minimized in summer and maximized in winter?

But because the windows of this façade are placed close together and staggered at different heights in a much more aesthetically dynamic checker pattern, some awnings end up casting shadows upon other ones at certain times of the day and year. If the windows and their awnings were simply lined up rather than checkered then this would not be a problem. But that would not look as sexy, would it?

All this becomes even more idiotic when we read in the statement that parametric design methods were applied here, presumably to optimize the placement of windows and the angles of their electricity-generating awnings. Looks like architectural form overshadowed, as it were, energy considerations. Are we before a new kind of façadism?

P.S. I’m getting really tired of the word “smart”.

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona and teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Rafael Gómez Moriana | DDDARQ

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