International architecture firm NBBJ has created Sunbreak, a new prototype for user-controlled sunshades that will not only lower energy costs, but also give buildings a dynamic appearance throughout the day. Technology currently exists for automatically regulating solar gains in buildings, but the downside to these systems is that they often lack manual controls, and one of the most common complaints heard from workers in modern office buildings is that they do not have enough control over their environment. Automatic sunshades go up or down based on the time of day but if it happens to be cloudy outside or if users want natural light in a room when the shades are down there may be nothing they can do. Inspired by Santiago Calatrava’s garage door design of 1985, the current prototype takes advantage of folding geometry, and a movable track system controlled by sensors and a mobile app. This unique geometry can transform to allow sunlight to bounce off its surface and reach further into buildings or fold down to block light out completely.
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