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University of Michigan Researchers Improve Solar Panels Using the Ancient Japanese Art of Kirigami

Solar energy is considered by many to be the future of electricity worldwide. Cities from Houston to Mumbai are embracing massive rooftop and rural solar infrastructure, a largely standardized system of fixed panels positioned to optimize sun intake at peak times. Only the most sophisticated adjustable panels which track the sun, however, are capable of absorbing the maximum amount of daylight allowed by the technology, meaning that the average immovable panel loses a significant amount of available energy.

Researchers at the University of Michigan sought to develop a solar energy system that could absorb the most daylight possible while reducing the carbon footprint from production of the panels themselves. The results are surprisingly beautiful: through the application of the ancient Japanese art of Kirigami, a variation of Origami, the researchers were able to capture up to 40 percent more sunlight than traditional panels.

Aeriform Ecologies: An Atmospheric Archive for Industrial Effluvium

Air pollution in urban areas is quickly racing to the forefront of the environmental discussion, with several major cities facing a serious deterioration of breathable air supply. New Delhi, Beijing, Los Angeles, Moscow and Karachi represent a handful of cities facing the world's worst urban pollution, each with recorded amounts of particulate matter exceeding acceptable levels. In 2014, the World Health Organization issued a report estimating that 7 million people suffered premature deaths in 2012 due to air pollution exposure. 

Enter Aeriform Ecologies: An Atmospheric Archive for Industrial Effluvium. Conceived as a thesis project by Jennifer Ng, University of Michigan with thesis advisor Kathy Velikov, Aeriform Ecologies delves into the possibilities for byproducts of petroleum production by proposing a network of solutions for the 'spatial runoffs' created by fossil fuel extraction. Based on a futuristic approach that includes a network of unmanned atmospheric gas harvesting dirigibles, the project blurs the lines between science, technology, and architecture.

Explore the effervescent world of Aeriform Ecologies after the break

The Queen Maud Research Station. Image © Jennifer Ng 111oW Respositories in Elevation. Image © Jennifer Ng Physical Models. Image Photos © Jennifer Ng & Adam Smith Queen Maud Station 066's Extraction and Sampling Pod. Image © Jennifer Ng

Preston Scott Cohen + Integrated Design Solutions to Expand UM Architecture Building

The University of Michigan (UM) has commissioned Preston Scott Cohen and Integrated Design Solutions to design a $28 million expansion for its 40-year-old design building. Primarily planned to be used by the school’s architecture program, the new addition will include classrooms, studios and offices, as well as the renovation of existing studios. The news comes five years after schematic designs for the original expansion were abandoned. More information, here

Lecture: Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular

Known as an architect, artist and cartoonist, Jimenez Lai has lectured on and exhibited his work nationally and internationally. He is known for his imaginative cartoon narratives and architectural installations. He is the founder of Bureau Spectacular and currently an assistant professor at University of Illinois at Chicago. His graphic novel, Citizens of No Place, will be published by the Princeton Architectural Press with a grant from the Graham Foundation this year.