Page E1.1 . 06 June 2012                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Art Watts

by Michael Cockram

In harnessing solar energy, the usual approach is to bolt an array of panels onto the roof of a building and plug it in. But recent advances such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) allow designers to incorporate solar cells seamlessly into a building's exterior.

Canadian glass artist Sarah Hall is taking this idea in a novel direction by using solar technology to create a striking contemporary version of stained glass that illuminates the aesthetic potential of PV.

Hall's Lux Nova installation (2007) at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, was the first permanent installation in North America to integrate stained glass and solar cells, according to the artist.

Two Vancouver firms, Clive Grout Architects and Walter Francl Architecture, were working to create a new library building that accommodated the school's desire to preserve a park on the site. Their design places the library facility underground, with an iconic "wind tower" above that acts as a stack ventilation shaft.

The tower is 40 feet (12 meters) tall and triangular in plan. For the south face, Hall was commissioned to create a six-by-24-foot (1.8-by-7.3-meter) vertical collage befitting this graduate school of theology.

Within each of the 12 constituent panels she designed, solar cells are arranged on an open grid, defining a series of stained-glass cross shapes.   >>>

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Glass artist Sarah Hall designed the Lux Nova installation for a new wind tower at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Called True North because of its orientation, the 40-foot- (12-meter-) tall tower was built as part of a library addition designed by Clive Grout Architects and Walter Francl Architecture.
Photo: Michael Elkan Extra Large Image

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Deep-blue silicon-crystal solar cells are woven into the stained-glass composition on the south face of the wind tower. The photovoltaic (PV) array generates power for LED lights that illuminate the triangular-plan tower at night.
Photo: Michael Elkan Extra Large Image

 

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