Artificial sky lights up Cardiff

Artificial sky lights up Cardiff
Melanie Reynolds An artificial sky has been developed at Cardiff University to help architects make best use of natural light when designing buildings. The sun’s path can be simulated and a range of weather conditions from clear sky to overcast can be created. “It’s basically a device for physically modelling scale models of buildings in an environment where you can control the lighting conditions,” said Huw Jenkins, a technician at the University’s Welsh School of Architecture. Using natural light to best effect reduces the energy consumption for electric lighting in modern buildings. But solar heat gain and glare from the sun also needs to be taken into account. The ‘sky’ comprises an 8m hemispherical dome fitted with 640 individually computer-controlled lamps and a sun simulator. (See pictured left.) Models of the building and its surroundings, ranging in scale from 1:20 to 1:4, are placed in the dome and the effect of daylight and the sun within the building are assessed. This is done using photocells to measure the intensity of light within, and outside, the model’s rooms. Designers also get a qualitative feel for the lighting using a video camera fitted inside the model. The dome has already been earmarked for use in the design of a ?2.5m “eco-factory” in Port Talbot, South Wales. It will also be used to analyse the problem of tall building shading in Hong Kong.


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