A Thousand Splendid Suns

By:  | April - 17 - 2015

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Bart Chompff, James Park

For centuries we have designed our buildings aligned to the sun. We aim to inverse this premise, by aligning the rays of the sun to our buildings.

With the advent of new technologies we believe the sun has the potential to play an even larger role in society than it does today, or has ever done before. Humanity has worshiped it, evolved with it, and organized its life around it. Our project aims to augment the utilization of sun’s energy on an architectural scale whereby the focus on capturing the sun’s energy goes beyond the mere application of photovoltaic cells upon surfaces. With this in mind, our design incorporates two available and proven processes of harvesting energy from the sun. Both of these processes operate by way of redirecting and thereby concentrating the rays of the sun towards a specific target but differ significantly in their output.

The first of our integrated concepts is Concentrated Solar Power (fig. 1). This is a system by which heliostats redirect and concentrate a large amount of thermal energy upon a small area which is transferred to a viscous substance which is in turn used to drive a steam turbine.

The second incorporated concept of energy harvesting is commonly referred to as Solar Thermal Cooling (fig. 2). It operates on a similar principle of focusing solar rays but alternatively uses the accumulated heat to fuel an absorption chiller, a device that transforms a hot substance into a cold one, which in turn may be used to cool the interior space of the building.

As previously indicated, both strategies utilize a methodology that operates on the principle of Forward Ray Tracing (fig. 3). Accordingly, arrays of heliostats are optimally positioned around the tower which redirect the sun’s rays as the earth completes its daily rotation. The tower’s deformed surfaces demarcate areas where Concentrated Solar Power and Solar Thermal Cooling are employed and are convex and concave respectively in accordance with the spatial requirements of the two technologies.

By harvesting more of the sun’s rays not only can we utilize more use of the sun’s latent energy but also fundamentally alter the relation between the sun and the architectural object.


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