Sun Sails, 2009

Sun Sails are tensile shade structures grouped to form ribbons and wave forms that mimic the wave energy of water and wind. By assembling these tensile forms in a configuration that suggests movement, they provide a beautiful sculptural illusion of the wind's animation while providing shade.

Each of these Sun Sails is a standard module whose configuration is adapted to different locations by a simple pivot system that allows for fine tuned adjustment of angles before being fixed permanently. In these renderings the sails are 11 x 17', though scale could vary depending on the context.

Rigid tubes on the two short sides of the sails hold the fabric in a tensile curve while a pivot point in the center of these tubes is attached to upright poles of different heights. Taut cable along the remaining edges holds the fabric under tension. Sun Sails can be cantilevered out from buildings to lower the cost of cooling within buildings while providing shade for pedestrians. The waveforms can be grouped over open courtyards, sidewalks and parking lots by combining tension cables and rigid members so the columns have a minimal footprint on the ground. The tilt of the ribbon can respond to the prevailing angles of the sun through the hottest times of day and year. These single modules can be reconfigured in almost limitless ways thereby controlling costs while allowing for the maximum flexibility of sculptural form.

Energy Harvesting Textiles for Power Generation
There are numerous new energy harvesting textiles being developed by such companies as G24 Innovations Inc., AB Ludwig Svensson, Inc. and Intelligent Textiles Engineering working with innovative architecture firms such as Kennedy and Violich Architecture, Ltd. These fabrics are beautiful and durable and one of KVArchitects (http://www.kvarch.net/) designs (Soft House) can generate 16,000 watt hours of electricity. The basic structure of the Sun Sails can accommodate different materials as they become commercially available and the power generated can do everything from power the lighting to recharging car batteries in parking lots. In addition, modern lightweight fabrics such as Soltis 92 made by Ferrari (a polyester mesh with a PVC coating) are designed to last 20 years making them an affordable and realistic material if the budget doesn't yet allow for energy harvesting textiles.

Illumination at Night
Lighting at night is as important as the shade during the day and is an integral part of the sense of movement and animation. This rhythmic flow of light using computer controlled LED lighting means waves of shifting color that can be programmed to respond to the season or some event or even to be interactive with the pedestrians. LED consumes little power and lasts a very long time so bulbs do not need to be frequently changed.

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Sun Sails, 2009 description
© Catherine Widgery