The Catoptric Surface harvests daylight by reflecting it through a building envelope to form an image-based pattern of light on an interior environment. The result produces visual effects while offering practical applications. Atmospheric effects are generated from daylight projected onto architectural surfaces within a built environment that amplifies or reduces spatial perception. The mapping of variable organizations of light onto existing or new surfaces creates a condition where the perception of space does not rely on form alone. This condition creates a visual effect of a formless atmosphere and affects the way people perceive the space.
The practical applications are intended to locate daylight in precise locations in the interior of a building with the potential to replace the need for artificial lights. Often the desired quantity and quality of daylight varies due to factors such as physiological differences due to age, the types of tasks people perform and their quality of eyesight. This system allows highly customized daylight levels within the interior of a building that can be quickly adapted to the user’s needs to key locations deep within a building.
The project produces visual effects and it’s customized light levels through its ability to move. It is a robotic façade system where each mirror rotates independently, controlled by a computer and electric motors to reflect daylight from the exterior deep within the building in precise locations. In this sense, each mirror can be considered to produce a pixel of daylight. The location of each pixel of light is determined by any raster-based image that is provided to the software. As each mirror rotates to reflect daylight onto a chosen location, it attempts to recreate a very low resolution version of the input image.
The project is collaborative research between the Sam Fox School of Visual Art and Design Graduate School of Architecture and Computer Science & Engineer in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. The design team includes: Chandler Ahrens (co-PI), Roger Chamberlain (co-PI), Scott Mitchell, Adam Barnstorff, Joshua Gelbard, Abhishek Dwaraki, Lisette Torres, Zinan Chi. The fabrication and assembly team also includes Armaan Shah, Ryan Treacy, Adam Goldberg, Clayton Faber, Kyle Singer, Meredith Bickett, Alessandro Guttilla, Jonah Lillioja, Sophie Olund, Katie Engelmeyer, and Jiaheng (KJ) Kuang. The research project was funded by InCEES (International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability) at Washington University in St. Louis.
Credits: - Washington University in St. Louis - Designer - Adam Barnstorff - Washington University in St. Louis - Designer - Scott Mitchell - Washington University in St. Louis - Electrical Engineer - Joshua Gelbard - Washington University in St. Louis - Computer Scientist - Roger Chamberlain