The much-anticipated Milan Design Week kicks off on Monday, and Panasonic just sent us the first images of one particularly exciting project — Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata‘s “Photosynthesis” Solar Ecosystem. We first wrote about the installation last month, when renderings were released showing what promised to be a fascinating interactive exhibit. “Photosynthesis” uses photovoltaic cells mounted on clear polycarbonate to create a visually stunning array designed to compare our technological need for the sun to a plant’s process of photosynthesis. Now installed at the Interni Legacy exhibit at Università Statale, it certainly lives up to expectations!

Interni Legacy, Milan Design Week, Panasonic Electric, Akihisa Hirata, Photovoltaic PanelPhoto © Santi Caleca/Panasonic

The innovative 3-D formation of solar panels appears to hover above the courtyard, where it is placed within a completely clear polycarbonate frame. As the plant-like formation of photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight from a range of directions throughout the day, the collected energy powers LED and OLED lights throughout the outdoor space, which take a range of forms – from giant flower shapes to clusters of small suspended balloons.

The result is a glowing and ethereal transformation of the historic Italian Courtyard, as the shining solar panels are illuminated by the converted solar energy they have captured. As they do so, they also reflect the plants, lights and arched facades of the courtyard, integrating contemporary technology, classical architecture and nature’s own form of harnessing energy.

+ Panasonic

+ Akihisa Hirata

All Photos © Santi Caleca/Panasonic