piksol

Piksol (i.e., a solar pixel) enables creation of arbitrary patterns and images on building's facades, while at the same allowing for collection of solar energy on them. In other words, it allows for both visually interesting and environment-friendly design of facades. Moreover, in combination with shadow casting panels, piksols can be used for creation of dynamic facades, which can totally change their appearance during the day, as the sun moves from dawn till dusk. Please see how it works for more information about piksols.

Although piksol is not a ready product available for sale yet, but rather an idea at the prototyping stage, we have conducted several experiments and studies to assess its feasibility. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you are interested in using piksols.

Piksol: a solar pixel

Piksol is a novel way of decorating sun-facing facades of buildings, which combines the freedom in the visual design of facades with capabilities of collecting solar energy on the facade. A piksol is an object representing a single pixel of an image to be visible on a facade. When attached to a sun-facing facade of a building, it plays a double role (see Fig. 1 below)

  • the form of the piksol casts a shadow on the facade, representing a (black) pixel of the image/pattern to be visible on the facade
  • the solar cells on the top of the piksol collect the sun energy and transform it to electricity

Figure 1: a single piksol

An observer standing in the front of a facade decorated by piksols does not see the solar cells at all, but only the pattern or an image conceived by a designer, visible as a light/shadow variation on the facade. On a cloudy day, when there is no direct sun illumination of the facade, the partern is hardly visible.


Figure 2: A facade covered with piksols on a sunny day

Piksols in a shadow casting panel

While the basic usage of piksols as described above already has several advantages over just covering a facade with solar cells, we think that the concept of piksol becomes particularly interesting in combination with so-called shadow casting panels: piksols used in a shadow casting panel can be used for creation of dynamic facades, which not only collect solar energy, but also change their appearance during the day, as the direction of sun illumination changes: in the morning image_A would decorate the facade, and in the afternoon image_B would become visible.


Figure 3: Piksols as building blocks of a shadow casting panel

A prototype

We have built a small prototype of a shadow casting panel contaning several piksols made of paper and small solar cells, as presented on the images below. In a full-size realization on a facade all the plates of a panel should be replaced by piksols, to maximize the collection potential of solar energy.

Additional examples and visualizations are presented in the video



Figure 4: Simple piksols made of paper and small solar cells

Figure 5: An overview of a shadow casting panel containing several piksols

Figure 6: Two views of the panel under different directions of light from a lamp

Figure 7: Two views of the panel under different directions of sunlight

Piksols can also be used to create colorful images on facades, by using solar cells with frames made of transparent plastics, similarly as in the case of colorful shadow casting panels.


A video presenting the concept of piksols and some prototypes