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Quick, Hide the Solar Panels!

A new arts center shows how to make solar panels look good, without camouflaging them.

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International Centre for Design in Saint-Etienne

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A new building by LIN Architects proves that a wealth of technical solutions for solar panels can be accomplished with sharp design.

The International Centre for Design in Saint-Etienne, France is a series of public arts spaces, which now link a bunch of old buildings on the site of a former arms factory. The idea was to create a geodesic frame, comprising 14,000 equilateral triangles–the cross bracing creates an interior unbroken by structural supports, which can be reconfigured for various uses. Moreover, since the facade is modular, it can serve lots of functions.

Some of the triangles have PV arrays in them; some of them have glass; and some are solid metal. So without any additional detailing, the facade creates zones of light and shade, suited to the areas inside–which include a movie theater and exhibition halls–while also seamlessly integrating a green-energy program. Clever stuff.

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International Centre for Design in Saint-Etienne

International Centre for Design in Saint-Etienne

[Check out DailyIcon and Architectural Review for more pics and info]

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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