Novartis Global HQ Integrates Solar Panels To Drive Its Own Media Facade On New Pavilion

July 27, 2023 by Dave Haynes

Via German language content partner invidis (Photo: Laurids Jensen) …

There is much to like and admire about this new pavilion on the Basel, Switzerland global HQ campus of the pharmaceutical company Novartis. It plays out purpose-designed digital art on its surface at night, on LEDs embedded and powered by the solar collectors that are part of the building’s curvy, organic design.

The zero-energy media façade covers almost 2,500 square meters, using 10,000 diamond-shaped, organic photovoltaic panels that are flexible, translucent and very sensitive to light (even the areas with less sunlight shine). That array is paired with some 15,000 bidirectional LED units that shine both directly outwards and inwards onto an underlying metal shell. 

The shell reflects the light and shimmers back out through the semi-transparent panels. The content creates the impression of a multi-layered membrane, something Novartis describes as a façade with a living skin.

Promotion by day, art by night

The photovoltaic panels are custom-made by ASCA. In the first months of operation, the amount of electricity generated by the facade was measured. The data collected showed that the electricity was sufficient to run text about the current exhibition during the day. Up to two hours after sunset, the facade displays various art animations. It is estimated that photovoltaics can generate 20 megawatt hours per year.

The building design is by Italian architect Michele de Lucchi, who worked together with the media architecture studio Iart from Basel on the project.

This is great for at least a couple of reasons:

That Sphere in Las Vegas looks amazing, but even with the light sources on that illuminated spherical structure being LED, the energy needed to drive that thing would be substantial. Then again, this is a place where casinos and restaurants have the AC cranked but the doors open to invite business in from the strip.

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