The Engineering Research Institute is a new facility planned for Portugal’s Minho University which has been designed to break the monotony of the surrounding grey buildings. Covered in a skin inspired by solar titanium nanotubes, the research facility, designed by Portugal-base Cláudio Vilarinho Architects, seeks sustainability as an ideal in architecture, while making use of building-integrated rooftop wind turbines. The cementitious matrix facade would be prefabricated and produced with micro fibers forming a durable, long-lasting and low maintenance cladding material. The facade also acts as a rain and shade screen to protect the building from the elements.

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Engineering Research Institute, Claudio Vilarinho, titanium nanotubes, solar power, shade screen, portugal, wind turbines

Research into titanium nanotubes has shown they have a potential for producing energy from solar power. Research is still ongoing to determine the full extent of their capabilities, but the nanotubes could be used to produce light-sensitive pigments, which are capable of harvesting or generating energy. The nanotubes also have the capacity for reuse and cheap production, which gives hope that they could be used to increase efficiencies of solar power and help reduce the associated costs. Cláudio Vilarinho Architects took inspiration from these titanium nanotubes to design the facade of the new engineering research facility.

The entire facade is covered in a punctured screen constructed from prefabricated modular elements. The cementitious material is produced with micro-fibers and has no conventional reinforcement, which could cause corrosion problems. The ductile and fluid material also reduces the risk of crackage or deformation, which helps reduce maintenance and improve longevity. Pigments or oxides can also be introduced to the material to make it whatever color desired like the bright green shown in the renderings. This screen helps reduce solar heat gain, while protecting the building from the elements and still allowing in natural daylight. Small scale wind turbines will also be installed on the roof to generate energy for the facility.

Via ArchDaily