bogus 'design'


This is why we fail.

Look closely. Every photovoltaic panel faces a different direction, a fundamental flaw in the way that PV strings work. But somewhere along the way our beloved dsigner decided he was going to glue a different size panel on every square of his 3d max model, and declare himself 'genius.'  

Leave it to the good folks at Volvo to unwittingly embrace greenwashing  failure. 

Jul 11, 13 4:21 pm

Looks parametric to me.

Jul 11, 13 4:58 pm

Max is parametric, but the point stands.

Jul 11, 13 7:52 pm
wurdan freo

I don't know... it allows you to rotate this portable, temporary pavilion in any direction and still create a current.  The PV array may not be able to ever achieve maximum output, but the resulting design is elegant to me. If the electrical requirements are met, I think it beats your typical solar array at a tilt to the sun on one side only. 

Jul 12, 13 12:17 am
Since it will be indoors at trade shows it might actually "work"
Jul 12, 13 3:44 pm

We just wanted to follow up on a few points about our "bogus" design...

The images you see were produced as concept renderings for the competition. We sold the idea, now the idea is becoming a reality through a process of intense R&D.  It is now being further developed - and as you all know, will change as more technical information, cost and fabrication restrictions, and other constraints come into play. This is really where it becomes a process of collaboration between the designers (Synthesis), engineers (Buro Happold) fabricators (Fabric Images) and the client's technical team (Volvo Design Center).

As Wurdan pointed out, since the pavilion will travel it has no given site, nor orientation, so we are currently in the process of producing solar incidence studies to help us locate the optimum positioning of all flexible PV panels to the area of greatest average annual solar incidence in any site and any orientation.  You can see some images of the studies below.

The parametric pattern (produced through Rhino/Grashopper/Kangaroo/Weaverbird) of the PV's is a design decision.  We are very intent that sustainability measures can and should be seen as integral design features that are considered for their aesthetic peformance as well.  Rather than place one generic chunk of PV's, our intent is to have a designed pattern of PV's which follows the gradient of solar incidence, the seam patterning of the fabric and also articulates the geometry of the skin.

The technical requirements for the charging of the car are a minimum 700w trickle charge, which is our target.  Though the primary intention of the proposal is to charge the car, the marketing intention is that the car can be on display outdoors in a hot Italian square with its air conditioning on permanently so that all visitors can sit in a cool car and even charge their phones.  We are working hard on this with our engineers and Volvo to make this happen.

This is absolutely an experimental structure - from the tensioned fabric membrane to the pre-cambered perimeter frame to the flexible photo-voltaic panels - and a terrific challenge.  Our office is focused on exploring the relationships between form, performance, and fabrication - so this is a challenge we are deeply vested in.  

We hope to prove you wrong.

Thanks for your interest in our project...we hope you will appreciate the completed project when it launches in September 2013.

Jul 12, 13 4:09 pm
Wat ?

can be on display outdoors in a hot Italian square with its air conditioning on permanently
Jul 12, 13 7:40 pm

Btw. The saddle is elegant. Just dont bullshit everyone with the PV. That's all. 

Try to prove me wrong, but when this is built there will be no PV. 

Jul 12, 13 9:01 pm
boy in a well

double dog dare there will be PV.

Jul 15, 13 8:29 am

that's what is great about being a troll.. nothing to lose!

Jul 15, 13 9:17 am

seems the whole point is the pv, and without those it won't be built at all.

it also seems this design has a lot of PV's that won't be used, or otherwise utilized in an inefficient way.  so, decorative PV panels instead of functional PV panels. 

IMHO, the difference between a good architect and a great architect is that "more technical information, cost and fabrication restrictions, and other constraints" are taken into consideration at the beginning of the design process rather than later during collaboration with other trades.  maybe, in this case, throwing money at decorative PV panels are within the scope the client wants, and the inefficiency was taken into consideration from the start.

Jul 15, 13 9:19 am

Definition of sustainability:

"on display outdoors in a hot Italian square with its air conditioning on permanently"

Jul 15, 13 10:03 am

wait, i may have missed it.

did they say they wanted the thing to be sustainable, or they wanted the thing to look sustainable?

Jul 15, 13 6:05 pm

Greenwashing. The entire premise is bogus.

Jul 15, 13 7:13 pm
The pics even show PVs that aren't receiving sun. Thusly, drawing power from the ones that do. To run an ac. Green.
Jul 16, 13 8:27 pm
boy in a well

hey, uh


how much skin you got in the game?

me? i'll have to listen to peace77 crow self righteously if im wrong.

 im gonna bet this is a problem well within the boundaries of the solvable and not, in the end, deserving of the guff its getting.

if not, ill send you Anthony Weiner style tweets for a month.


Jul 17, 13 10:08 am

please do.

Jul 17, 13 10:24 am

If the worst thing anyone does is troll, then life is good. Trolling  is not nearly as bad as greenwashing imho.

Im still going to bet the opposite though; do I believe that an engineer can invent the world's first double curvature photo voltaic system and that  can produce a steady current with panels facing every which direction in time for the big 'september launch?'  no.  But --far-- more importantly, do I believe this should have been considered a reality from day 1 of design? yes.  


Jul 18, 13 7:17 pm
Easy to throw stones with no skin in the game
Stop hating and post up constructive feedback
Jul 18, 13 8:27 pm
( o Y o )

Pourquoi? C'est plus amusant d'imaginer que vous avez la plus grande bite sur un forum anonyme.

Jul 18, 13 8:38 pm
boy in a well

ok peace - educate me on indirect vs direct pv. I'm a noob with great faith (whether Synth DNA deserves it or not). just post me link to catch up - you don't have to spend time writing a thing. god forbid we give it all away for free.

but it seems like a simple parametric math problem: x amount direct here, x amount indirect here, panel area xy here, area xy here, change the angle of the support, etc. change the shape of the 'saddle' here and there. z amount required to run the AC. Is there some 'universal' criteria that you want to measure this by? Seems like someone can make it work. who cares if there are different size panels?

I'm owning my noobage. What are the grounds of your dismissal?

Jul 19, 13 5:06 am
boy in a well

and jean - just because you paint triangles on it doesn't mean its faceted. but still, the ramp at branly was fun.

Jul 19, 13 5:08 am
Plenty of solar panels don't need to be directly pointed perpendicular to the sun angle to be effective today
Jul 19, 13 8:36 am

i would like more information on that veuxx, if you have a link or something.

Jul 19, 13 9:38 am
Sure I will find some for you
You need to find the best angle that is optimal for your location
Don't mistake my statement that a system that is capable to rotate perpendicular with the sun will always be MORE effective but not cost effectively
Jul 19, 13 5:11 pm

And this is architecture because.....

Jul 19, 13 5:53 pm

fku2 / veuxx

Its not that all panels are not directly perpendicular to the sun. No static (non-tracking) PV system would ever work except for one time of day one day a year if that were the case. The issue is that every panel in this design has a unique orientation to the sun. So while some would be perhaps very close to perpendicular, others would be 15 degrees off, others 30 degrees, others 45, etc. With every last panel being a different size and a different orientation they will be pushing very different wattages back to the charge controller which will be problematic, or given the extreme range in this case, probably non-functional. 

I dont have a link, just experience. (very germane to the original point, methinks....)

Jul 23, 13 9:42 am

I understand a PV fabric with large panels, as conceptually rendered, has a huge potential to recharge and run a vehicle. What about solar 'film' on the front and back windows? I've heard about applications that make current commercial glazing obsolete. However, I'm clueless as to how feasible this would be with a windshield glass. 

Jul 23, 13 3:15 pm

The important thing would be how many inverters does this system have. A single inverter would make this system run based off the worst panel.  Resulting in all panels working at minimal efficiency.

Nov 9, 13 1:42 pm
boy in a well


information is hot.

hey Synthy!

We politely request a progress report.

or we will make you read the public/traditional design thread (gag).

Nov 9, 13 10:06 pm

Hi all. Here's the update. The pavilion was completed and launched in early October at a launch event in Milan, and is now in Rimini at the EcoMondo trade fair. It will be going a multi city tour of Italy ending at the Venice Bienalle next summer.

It was definitely an experimental process full of learning on the fly in order to deliver the pavilion within the time constraints. However it does work. It fits in the trunk of the car and assembles in under an hour. It charges a fully depleted V60 in 12 hours.

There are 252 7"x7" flexible solar panels embedded in the mesh , and wired to two inverters and an MPPT (maximum power point transmission) controller feeding an external battery. The controller senses real-time transmission values of each cell in the array and disabled cells that are not reaching the 300watt minimum threshold required to charge the battery. This basically allows us to control the "weakest link" in the array throughout the day to ensure a constant charge. The array trickle charges the battery which in turn charges the car.

You can see a short promotional video of the project here.

You can see photos and diagrams here on Dezeen.

We're very proud if the project but also realize there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of detailing and wiring. It recently won an AIA|LA Next LA Design Award and was named as 1 of Time Magazine's 25 most important inventions of 2013.

It really has been a flattering and humbling experience.

Nov 15, 13 1:44 pm
boy in a well

cheers mate!

on behalf of the non-haters: take that, haters!

where do I keep my chateau haut brion cool while im waiting for the battery to charge?

Nov 15, 13 4:08 pm

SynthesisDNA, what was the cost of the project? 

Nov 15, 13 5:47 pm

Total budget was $80k. Including base, travel etc   

Nov 15, 13 6:39 pm
Gosh I love seeing this happen: a proposal, discussion and critique, then report back on completed project. I wish we did this more on Archinect (great threat re: the traditional thread, boy in well).
Nov 16, 13 10:04 am

any estimate as to what it would cost to sell it to the public?  is it anywhere close to a point where people can actually put it in the trunk of their car then charge their car while on vacation or something?

Nov 16, 13 11:43 am
Just listed as one of Time's top 25 innovations for 2013. Credence?
Nov 20, 13 6:49 pm
Nov 20, 13 6:50 pm

That thing has 10x times as many collectors as necessary. Way too expensive and inefficient for production or a top 25 award.

Nov 20, 13 6:56 pm

Ford in reality - 1 
Volvo bullshit - 0

Jan 6, 14 6:10 pm

"can go 21 miles between charges"

Ford  -1

Volvo 0

Bicycle 10,000

Jan 6, 14 6:19 pm

yeah so there

everyone should stop trying new things because some folks thinks its stupid. its the american way

Jan 7, 14 12:53 am

Jesus H. Christ the pessimism being disguised as critique in here reeks. 

Jan 7, 14 9:14 am

Here's a high efficiency transportation proposal for you: mass public transit. Perpetuating the idea that you need a couple of tons of machinery to deliver a 150 lb. person anywhere is inane.

Jan 7, 14 9:59 am

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