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Criticalista: Get Smart


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 windows--as window awnings--so 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".

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