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Using Computer Models and Giant Mirrors to Create the Shadowless Skyscraper of the Future

With more mega-towers popping up in already dense neighborhoods, the shadows they cast on the surrounding community is a growing concern. Over in London, where some 250 skyscrapers are planned for the near future, architecture firm NBBJ is experimenting with a way to design a totally shadowless high-rise. Their logic seems simple: building one skyscraper casts shadows, but give it a buddy designed like a giant curved mirror and the second tower could cast light into the valley of darkness created by the first. (Don't worry, the reflection is supposed to be diffuse, not the death rays responsible for the Walkie-Talkie's car-burning incident.) As explained in a recent story on Wired, designers at NBBJ have been playing with computer modeling software to hone this precise shadow-canceling concept.

Not surprisingly, there's a lot they need to get right. By entering specific requirements like the amount of space allocated for office and living space in the building's footprint, the computer program Rhinoceros can generate all the building shapes that maximize sunlight reflected onto the ground. Christian Coop, NBBJ's design director, tells Wired that some of the computer-derived designs are "bonkers" and his team had to adjust the parameters to get a more sensible skyscraper shape.

Moreover, whatever overall form they go with will also need to have a "carefully defined" curve to reflect light that follows the shadows created by the first tower throughout the day. NBBJ claims the current concept, shown in the rendering above, reduces shade by up to 60 percent. But perhaps after they successfully design one shadowless skyscraper, they'll have to worry about the shade created by the shadow-busting tower itself. Read Wired's full story here.

· The Plan to Build a Skyscraper That Doesn't Cast a Shadow [Wired]
· Neighbors Of Rising Towers Left In The Dark, Literally [Wired]
· All NBBJ coverage [Curbed National]