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From the architects: We propose a building with a unique image for the campus. A building that breaks the existing gray monotony – referring not only about the pictorial issue of the Campus, but also about the “global crisis without end” – and that, at the same time, is able to captivate.
The solar cell technology has not changed much over the times, however, silicon solar cells prevail “says Dr. Craig Grimes, professor of Electrical Engineering, Materials Science and Design at the Pennsylvania State University. “You spend a lot of energy, 5 gigajoules per square meter to produce silicon solar cells. It can be argued, first, that these cells never fully recover the energy used to produce them.”
The new approach is to develop light-sensitive pigments that have been made using nanoparticles and various pigments. Researchers are studying titanium nanotubes to replace the layers of sensible pigment particles in the solar cells, and their initial effort produced about 3 percent of solar energy converted into electricity. The inability of researchers to grow longer titanium nanotubes reduced the proportion of solar conversion.[…]
The search for future technology themes, was the genesis of the selected image for the building. The facade skin, happened through an architectural reinterpretation, it retracts the symbolic power of the ERI purpose. We used as reference the titanium nanotubes. Associated with recent discoveries, the titanium nanotubes have, among others, capacities for reuse and cheap production, becoming, this way, an inspiration for an architecture that seeks sustainability as an ideal.
Nowadays, at the offices of UM (Minho University), researching processes are occurring in what concerns to materials development, one possible example is what’s happening in the civil engineering laboratory. In order to develop common synergies, we propose the skin of the building in prefabricated elements of a cementitious matrix material.
This material reinforced with micro-fibers, has no conventional reinforcement, which could cause corrosion problems, among other features, is a very ductile material, plastic, fluid, self-compatible and allows to control the crack and therefore doesn’t crack. This skin allows the inclusion of pigmentation/oxides doesn’t need constant maintenance and lasts longer than common materials. To finish, it also allows a wide range of the architectural freedom.
Location: Minho University, Azurém Campus, Guimarães, Portugal
Architect: Cláudio Vilarinho
Collaborators: Carine Pimenta, Catarina Campos, João Pereira de Sousa, Pedro Resende
Photographs: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography