If architect Sheila Kennedy gets her way, textiles will soon be able to take the sun’s energy and turn it into electricity. Kennedy is an expert in the integration of solar cell technology in architecture. And, her team from KVA Matx has designed the Soft House, a structure that can create close to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity by transforming household curtains into flexible, semi-transparent, solar collectors.
Textiles have been a fixture of architecture and design for their ability to define and modify a space. For Sheila Kennedy, textiles are just another material from which energy can be generated. The thin-film photovoltaic textiles are essentially solar panels created from organic photovoltaics. While not as efficient as the silicon based type, they are able to be molded and modified without any manufacturing process.
The Soft House has gone through a number of prototypes, but don’t expect to see it anytime soon. The cost of the solar textiles would, at current, make it cost prohibitive. However, Kennedy’s work on this project shows that renewable energy technologies can be easily integrated into designs in ways that had never been thought of before. Kennedy’s own words best describe our thoughts on the Soft House: “Never underestimate the power of the architectural imagination.”