Where art meets environment, solar canopy to digitally tackle climate change
Source :News Bharati English   Date :15-May-2017

Abu Dhabi, May 15: Desert metropolis of Dubai where summer is one long heat wave and where shadows mean a very important source. For this Italian architect and designer, ‘Carlo Ratti’ came up with the unique canopy which cools the outdoor areas with the help of sunlight.

‘Sun&Shade’ is a digitally controlled canopy developed in collaboration with Dubai’s Museum of the Future which converts solar energy into electricity and contributes to the climate change adaptation in cities.

‘Sun&Shade’ revealed in Dubai during the World Government Summit, as part of the ‘Reimagining Climate Change’ exhibit at the Museum of the Future.

The canopy is the arrangement of the mirror which absorbs sunlight and like a sunflower, each mirror can move on a double axis to reflect different amounts of sunlight and provide varied amounts of shade at different times. This provides shadow and natural cooling.

The mirrors are arranged in the way that each mirror is located at safe distance from each other which can also generate electric power through the solar panels placed nearby to mirror. Reflected rays are focused on a photovoltaic receiver.



Carlo Ratti, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and a founding partner of Carlo Ratti Associati commented “In developing Sun&Shade we were inspired by the Middle Eastern tradition of shadowing in architecture and public space” and Sun&Shade aims to bring this concept to the next level, allowing shadowing to be digitally controlled. While the reflected sun is concentrated far away, producing heat at a safe distance from people, the space underneath the canopy cools down”.

The aim is to reduce the heat that makes outdoors or Public places like Dubai to become inhabitable all year long while producing clean energy for the community.


The canopy itself can sense where the sun is. According to sun’s location, the mirrors adjust itself in various angles allowing people to interact with sunlight in creative ways from selecting the precise level of shading underneath, to composing dynamic drawings with light to reinterpret the traditional patterns of Arabic architecture.

Seeing another side of the project advantage is that it is a reinterpretation of a small concentrated solar power (CSP) plant which as a can be used in urban areas including rural ones. More experiments can be done by concentrated sun such as roasting food on a sun-heated stone plate.

Antonio Atripaldi, project manager at Carlo Ratti Associati said “The canopy is half power infrastructure, the half architecture for public space” and “With its hybrid nature, it allows us more control over our surroundings. In the near future, we can imagine extending the canopy to cover streets or open squares in hot, arid climates such as Dubai’s, allowing people to enjoy the outdoors all year round. Conversely, in a cold place, we could concentrate rays underneath the canopy, to heat the environment.”

Carlo Ratti Associati aims to explore that how architecture can help its prevention and adaptation at a time when climate change is becoming increasingly pressing.