This summer, a series of demonstrations in Paris have launched to show how to use “photonic membranes” to cool large areas of land, buildings, and, conceivably, entire cities. Designers from the international climate engineering firm Transsolar and architect Carlo Ratti have teamed up to showcase three different models of this unconventional and high-tech method of addressing climate change. You can check them out yourself from 20 August to 4 October.
The technology used in these demonstrations comes from research at Stanford University. Photonic materials have been highly effective in reflecting direct sunlight, bouncing the rays back into space as infrared light. The top of the membrane stays several degrees cooler than air temperature, creating an unprecedented shaded area for people underneath. The implications for buildings, plazas, and courtyards are seriously impressive, especially when considering how the coverings require no electricity or other resources to run.
The Paris demonstration will consist of three showcases: Greenhouse, Coolhouse, and Treehouse. Visitors can experience these interactive displays, which show how each station would feel based on humidity, wind speed, and ambient air temperature. Using the Universal Thermal Climate Index updated every 15 minutes, observers can see what each of the houses would feel like with that day’s real-time temperature and weather.
Thomas Auer, managing director at Transsolar, says, “We are particularly excited to have had the opportunity to develop this demonstrator in Paris – a city that played a big role in the development of modern greenhouses, all the way from Versailles’ spectacular glass enclosure of the 18th century.” The applications of photonic membranes are vast and could mean a lot for cities struggling with the hottest summer on record. These efforts, combined with a drastic shift toward renewable resources, could mean safer and more comfortable seasons for all.
Images via Transsolar