Mind & Matter

 

UrbanTile Transforms Blinds into Citywide Displays

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UrbanTile solar-powered displays, developed by Meidad Marzan.

 

In the summer of 2008, Simone Giostra and Arup unveiled a head-turning architectural installation on the occasion of the Beijing Summer Olympics. According to the architect, GreenPix—which collected energy from sunlight during the day and used it to power a giant multicolored media display at night—was the first zero-energy media wall for buildings.

An industrial designer with Jerusalem-based Bezalel Academy of Art and Design has developed a GreenPix-like solution that may be easily adapted to existing structures. Meidad Marzan’s solution, called UrbanTile, is an adjustable shading device that absorbs solar power during the day and utilizes the energy for nocturnal lighting needs. UrbanTiles may be tilted at various angles in order to maximize energy absorption and minimize glare for building occupants, and this rotation can be incorporated as an effect in moving illuminated OLED displays on the reverse side at night.

Like any technology, UrbanTile could be used for good or for ill. Positive uses would include nighttime task lighting or building-wide emergency lighting. Negative uses would result in entire urban skylines accommodating flashing Times Square advertisements (although in Japan, this could be interesting). In any case, both Giostra’s and Marzan’s projects demonstrate the extent to which low-powered illumination is becoming an increasingly important consideration in architecture and urban design.

 

 
 

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.