Wind + Solar Power FACADE
by MateriaLab

The clever folks at MateriaLab, an interdisciplinary research firm based out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, has been experimenting with a radical new photovoltaic facade. Tiny solar cells and wind turbines are integrated into the front facade of any building to produce electricity.

The real innovation comes from the system’s pivoting lenses track the movement of the sun across the sky, focusing its rays onto high-tech solar cells. With record efficiency, the modules are expected to convert 30 percent of the sun’s light to electricity and absorb 50 percent of its energy in the form of heat.

Most commercial PV systems that green minded architects have relied on since the 1970s perform at 15% efficiency. Materialab’s system could supply as much as 50% of the energy for a building, bringing us that much closer to a true solar revolution.

Inside a double-glass envelope, thin structural guidewires suspend rows of “integrated concentrator solar modules,” which reposition themselves in response to sensors on the facade that track the angle of the sun, allowing the modules to receive maximum light.


Unlike conventional blinds, the modules actually capture direct light and heat (above), providing a new solution to the problem of interior glare. The daylighting technology is integrated into the design of the transparent module, which has a lens on its underside that diffuses glare and scatters excess light.


The lens converges incoming sunlight onto a powerful solar cell (developed for NASA) that captures light more effectively.


Materialab is also developing the Wind Amplified Rotor Platform (WARP), which generates energy using small mechanical turbines (A) strategically positioned on aerodynamically curved panels (B) and trusses (C) that form a continuous surface that attaches to a building at support points.

Website: An article in Metropolis