By Nicholas Mosher
In select cities where there are skyscrapers that can be seen for long distances, lighting is used for decoration and entertainment along the facades of the massive buildings. By simply turning on the lights in select rooms, basic words and images can be made to capture the attention from the people around. More advanced system include using 4D projectors which animate the facades and turn them into giant movie screens where images can be clearer and in color. This technology is very expensive and involves a projector to be placed far from the actual building possibly onto another property of land.Meidad Marzan has created a product called the Urban Tile where they are placed on permanent rods and on one side is covered in photovoltaics and the other side has an OLED light. A single tile is roughly around the size of a nine inch square where the rod pierces the center of the sides of the tile. Many tiles are placed on a rod but each tile has an electric motor which allows them to move individually. With many tiles on many rods, together they create a giant screen where each one acts like a pixel1.
Image taken from Gizmag.com
Image taken from Gizmag.com
The image above shows what a building looks like at night with several hundred of these Urban Tiles operating together. Aside from still images, the use of either rotating the panels or just turning the lights on and off, an animation can also be created. This can make a building come alive and capture the attentions of people all around. During the daytime, the tiles are rotated in a way that the photovoltaics are facing the sun as much as possible. This allows the batteries to charge for the OLED light at night. Also, the tiles act like blinds where it can block sunlight from entering the interior or let sunlight inside. The photovoltaics can still capture energy from the sun even when it is not fully facing the sun1. It is effective because the OLED lights require little energy compared to other electric light sources such as incandescent bulbs. However, they are not as energy efficient as fluorescent bulbs or LED lights, they also do not shine as bright as those. This makes for a good use on buildings because the light is not overpowering to the people that can see it.
Due to the fact that the OLED lights are powered by the photovoltaics, this can be a problem if there are clouds during the day. If there is no sun then there cannot be any energy captured and converted. Unless the system of tiles was also connected to the grid or a backup electrical supply, then there would be a limit on using the lights every single night. The use and development of a system like this can improve its flexibility to beyond just 2D rectangles. Architecture can adapt to using lighting systems like this interactive façade to create imagery and messages along surfaces and affect how they want people to feel and relate in spaces and communities.
1. Steven Hondrogiannis. (September 2, 2011) Urban Tile Window Blind ConceptFuses Solar Panel with an OLED Screen. Gizmag.com. http://www.gizmag.com/solar-panel-fused-with-an-oled-screen-makes-an-urbantile/19683/