5 solar-powered buildings that will forever change architecture

5 solar-powered buildings that will forever change architecture

With solar energy prices dropping to record lows and advancements in design soaring, more architects and developers are turning to solar for its costs savings and aesthetic appeal. As we’ll see over the next two years, some of the largest building projects in the world are integrating photovoltaics from the rooftop down to the facade. Below are just a handful we can’t wait to see completed.

Apple’s Spaceship HQ

Apple’s gorgeous new $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, California, dubbed the “Spaceship,” will not only contain the largest pieces of structural glass ever made, but also one of the largest solar arrays for a corporate building in the world. The technology giant is taking advantage of its copious rooftop surface area to install thousands of solar panels with an estimated output of 16 megawatts of power. The campus will also feature 4 megawatts of biogas fuel cells and source additional renewable energy from a nearby 130 megawatt solar installation from First Solar.

In addition to renewables, Apple is also adding 2,500 new and indigenous trees (bringing the total to over 7,000), groundbreaking sustainable design elements, and miles of biking and jogging trails. In total, the 175-acre campus will be 80 percent green space.

“We’re building a new headquarters that will, I think, be the greenest building on the planet,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “It’ll be a center for innovation, and it’s something clearly our employees want and we want.”

Apple’s new HQ campus is expected to be completed later this year.

Melbourne’s off-grid skyscraper

A new 60-story apartment building slated for Melbourne’s skyline is aiming to offer future residents a completely off-grid experience. To achieve this, Peddle Thorp Architects have designed a building with a facade wrapped in solar cells and complemented with roof-mounted wind turbines, sustainable design and a massive battery storage system. Called Sol Invictus (“invincible sun”), the building will be oriented to give its curved exterior the ability to capture as much of the sun’s east-to-west movement as possible.

“This concept would see the technology shaping a fundamental part of the architecture,” architect Peter Brook from Peddle Thorp told Curbed. “Many designers engineer buildings to reduce their exposure to the sun. In this case, we’re doing the opposite.”

According to Brook, leveraging solar panels in the facade as opposed to the roof allowed the designers to expand the square footage available for renewable power from 4,305 square feet to 37,673 square feet. While that number will offset roughly 50 percent of the buildings energy needs, the designers are hopeful that gains in efficiency and other improvements will move that number closer to 100 percent when the project is completed in the next three or four years.

Sol invictus Melbourne

Source: Peddle Thorp

Source: Mother Nature Network

Date: March 2017

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