Design of a Computer Controlled Sun-tracking Façade Model

Open Access
Author:
Tashakori, Mahzad
Graduate Program:
Architecture
Degree:
Master of Architecture
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
February 24, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Ute Poerschke, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Loukas N Kalisperis, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Jeffrey Brownson, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
Keywords:
  • Façade
  • building envelope
  • responsive
  • environmental performance
  • computation
  • sensor
  • micro-controller
  • servo
  • sun-tracking
Abstract:
This thesis describes the development of a computer controlled sun-tracking device model that aims at improving the environmental performance (daylighting, shading, energy harvesting) of a building façade system. During the process, advanced computational modeling and simulation tools, such as Grasshopper and Ecotect, were utilized to create and analyze an environmentally responsive building envelope with an integrated sun-tracking device. Physical models of the simulated sun-tracking system were built. They are equipped with light sensors that gather solar information to detect the optimum angle for absorption of solar radiation. The sensors are connected to a micro-controller to process, store and send the information to micro-servos that mechanically actuate the sun-tracking elements to be oriented to the light source. The thesis discusses the benefits of this adaptive device, i.e. maximizing the efficiency of energy harvesting from mounted photovoltaic cells while providing an enclosure for the inner space, and regulating daylight, shading and visual contact between inside and outside. The incorporated energy generating photovoltaic cells make the kinetic façade modules completely self-sufficient with no need for a centralized control system. Ultimately this thesis contributes to the question of how a computer controlled sun-tracking device can be integrated in a façade system.