As It Happens

Architects design skyscraper that doesn't cast a shadow

As our cities become denser, mega-condos and corporate towers increasingly cut across the skyline — with each project blotting out another bit of the sun on the streets below them. But what if you could build a no-shadow skyscraper instead?
Can a skyscraper be built so that it casts no shadow? London, UK-based architects NBBJ have designed their "No Shadow Tower" to do just that. (Courtesy of NBBJ)

As our cities become denser, mega-condos and corporate towers increasingly cut across the skyline — with each project blotting out another bit of the sun on the streets below. But what if you could build a no-shadow skyscraper instead?

Architecture firm NBBJ thinks it can be done. Their "No Shadow Tower" model uses the latest in computer engineering and it's hoped that it represents the future of skyscraper design.

"The form is optimized to follow the path of the sun," explains Christian Coop, a London, England-based design director at NBBJ, to As It Happens host Carol Off. "The northern building is somewhat taller than the southern building so it can actually gather the light and reflect it."

Architect firm NBBJ used a custom algorithm to reflect diffuse light to hide shadows cast by the southern tower. (NBBJ)

The south tower would act as a reflective mirror, casting light exactly where a shadow from the south building would normally appear. The north tower would still cast a shadow, however.

Of course, towers in other locations would need different designs to compensate for that area's solar path.

"A building in London will be different than a building in Toronto because the relationship with the sun is different," he says. 

Christian Coop, architect and design director at NBBJ. (Courtesy of Christian Coop)

The surface of the building would require reflective glass and stainless steel. In each case, however, the patterns of those materials could be uniquely designed for each building.

"We see this as a tool that other architects could take and create better public places around tall buildings," he says. 

Artistic rendering of the courtyard in between the "No Shadow Tower" designed by London, UK-based architects NBBJ. (Courtesy of NBBJ)

Unlike the infamous City of London skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street, the heat from the light produced by the "No Shadow Tower" will not fry eggs or melt car parts.  

"Our building is designed to do diffuse light," he says. "It's not a straight facade and it's not a parabolic facade that could actually concentrate light."

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