Architecture, Perception and Energy

Dancing Screen by Eleonora Nicoletti. Fall In Art and Sol Festival, Michigan (USA) 2013

Dancing Screen by Eleonora Nicoletti. Fall In Art and Sol Festival, Michigan (USA) 2013

The idea of “built environment” is often erroneously associated with gloomy concrete monsters cruelly defeating nature. Some radical ecologists would almost say that building is a crime.

The aim of Architecture should actually be to enhance space, not to ruin it. When transforming spaces, architects are expected to return them with definitely improved quality, so that people can desire to spend their time there.

Thanks to constantly evolving technologies, the quality of spaces can be improved more and more according to up-to-date human needs. Surfaces defining architectural volumes are nowadays multitask interfaces, filtering matter, energy and information. They can enhance human perception with sensorial stimuli such as dynamic lights, colors, shadows, sounds and smells. Nonetheless, they are highly engineered machines protecting people from any external hazards threatening their comfort, and defining their relation to the surrounding environment. In fact, as openings allow circulation and views to the landscape, they also let natural light permeate the interiors, which seems to consistently affect all human activities.

Relatively recent accomplishments in energy technology have also made it possible to generate energy from renewable sources with components integrated into the building envelope, such as solar panels and micro wind turbines. Researchers are working towards increasing the efficiency of such systems and reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing the components, while making them more lightweight and cost effective as well.

Since I was a student at the Architecture school, I have always been fascinated by the possibility of generating clean energy with building envelopes capable of particularly stimulating human perception, and this became the main focus of my research.

Lately an increasing number of new architectural projects in the world has shown creative applications of energy technologies. In my design activity, I have been experimenting with some of them, also in collaboration with other international architects and artists. Examples of the new technologies I have been working with include smart materials and microalgae, as well as innovative applications of traditional materials. For instance, Dancing Screen, a prototype of dynamic architectural screen exhibited at Fall In… Art and Sol in autumn 2013 in Michigan, is an ultra light partition and shading system with combined photoluminescent and flexible photovoltaic materials.

I am especially interested in investigating new ways of bringing architecture one step closer to being fully zero-energy or even plus-energy while offering people enjoyable spaces. By sharing information related to my research on the Technergeia platform, I hope I will inspire individuals and communities to adopt more creative solutions that can improve their living environment and lifestyle.

Enjoy your reading!

Eleonora Nicoletti





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