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Civil Twilight Team Wins 2007 Metropolis Next Generation® Design Prize

Members of San Francisco design collective awarded $10,000 for energy-conserving "Lunar-Resonant Streetlights" proposal.

By ArchNewsNow
April 27, 2007

“Civil twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 6 degrees below the horizon. This is the limit at which twilight illumination is sufficient, under good weather conditions, for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished.” – U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department


Created by Metropolis magazine, the Next Generation® competition, now in its fourth year, encourages and recognizes outstanding ideas from young architects and designers for making our built environment better, safer, and more sustainable. This year, entrants were asked to submit proposals relating to energy issues.


A team from San Francisco-based design collective Civil Twilight has been chosen as this year’s winner of the Metropolis Next Generation® Design Prize. The winning team members – Anton Willis, Kate Lydon, and Christina Seely – were honored by the architecture and design community at a gala awards celebration held last evening at the Herman Miller showroom at the San Francisco Design Center.


The winners were presented with the annual Next Generation® $10,000 prize for their innovative, energy-saving urban outdoor lighting concept, Lunar-Resonant Streetlights. Their proposal: Replace standard urban streetlight bulbs with “lunar-resonant” units that would automatically dim or brighten in response to ambient moonlight – potentially saving as much as 95% of energy used in street lighting, while also enhancing nighttime visibility and enabling city residents to once again experience the pleasures of observing the nighttime sky.


According to the team’s statistics, streetlights account for 38% of all electricity used for lighting in the U.S., and produce about 300 million tons of carbon emissions per year. In addition, their light pollution prevents two-thirds of Americans from seeing moonlight or stars.


The concept could be implemented simply and economically, by retrofitting existing lights with dimmable LED bulbs and a highly sensitive photo-sensor cell that would detect/respond to moonlight (as well as cloud cover and atmospheric conditions affecting daytime needs for street lighting). Most parts required are available off the shelf.


Fourteen additional proposals from Canada, China, New Zealand, U.K., and U.S. were also honored as runners-up at the awards event.


“This year’s winning team – and the very noteworthy runners-up – have fully realized the combination of practical and imaginative that we wish to encourage through the Next Generation® competition,” says Metropolis publisher Horace Havemeyer III, who notes that all competition entrants are required to submit business plans for their proposals.


“The Next Generation® competition is exciting because it showcases the positive force that young designers represent,” says Metropolis Editor-in-Chief Susan S. Szenasy. “They are at the forefront of the latest developments in integrating ecological and social sustainability, digital technology, and materials innovation, all of which are critical in shaping the quality of the built environment and our lives in the 21st century.”


The judges for this year’s competition were Jeff Barber, executive director of the Architecture Studio for Gensler’s Southeast region; Fred Dust, head of IDEO’s Smart Space practice; Suzan Globus, principal of Globus Design Associates and current president of the ASID; and Michael Hendrix, co-founder of Tricycle, Inc. Szenasy moderated the deliberations.


2007 Next Generation® Design Prize Runners-Up:


-Reamon Yu (Shanghai, China): “iSave,” an LED display for faucets and showers to make users aware of their water usage, and make them more inclined to save water.


-Alberto Villarreal (San Francisco): “BrightWalk,” a shoe that incorporates piezo-electric transducers and electroluminescent polymers to generate light while the user is walking or running.


-Joseph Cory and Eyal Malka, Geotectura (Haifa, Israel): “i-rise,” a vertical, multi-story residential unit with an integrated infrastructure for generating renewable energy, collecting rainwater, and treating liquid and solid waste based on zero-environmental impact technologies.


-Michael Kirchmann and team, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (New York City): “Jewels of Nizam,” an elegant metal screen façade for buildings that screens rooms from sunlight and is informed by local culture.


-Boris Von Bormann and Nik Hafermaas, UeBERSEE (Los Angeles): “PowerSEED,” an artistic light installation that is completely self-sufficient and generates its own energy (already part of a plan for innovation corridor in Pasadena).


-Michael Silver (Brooklyn, NY): “Composite Space,” sustainable building applications for s-glass, carbon and Kevlar®-reinforced thermoplastic composites fabricated using a multi-axis, CNC fiber placement robot.


-Andre Dettler, Steelcase (Grand Rapids, MI): “Startup Kitchen,” a freestanding kitchen unit that can recycle resources and invites group participation. Energy and waste are recycled.


-David Slocombe and Adrian Ashley, Project Bureau, Ashley Kalman Ltd. (London, UK): “Loco-plug and Loco Outlet,” save energy by opening the circuit while electric devices are on standby. “Loco” stands for “low consumption.”


-Eric Olsen (Ann Arbor, MI): “Electro-Conductive Gypsum Wallboard,” a low-voltage electrified surface into which appliances can be directly plugged, eliminating the need for cords and offering energy efficiencies.


-Elizabeth Redmond (Dexter, MI): “Project Power Leap,” a piezoelectric urban flooring system that saves the energy used as people walk across it, and lights up the nighttime sidewalk.


-Jerad Tinnin (Wellington, New Zealand): “Luminet,” a power-saving LED desk light that comes in a recyclable, trackable package.


-Martina Decker (New York City) “SmartScreen,” a thermo-responsive surface for exterior applications that expands with heat, to keep interiors cooler and conserve energy.


-Dawn Darby, Jyoti Stephens and Mary Rick, Bainbridge Graduate Institute (Toronto): “Beeline,” an online virtual marketplace/transportation coordination system that connects local growers and retailers.


-Doug Hecker, Martha Skinner, Marc Leverant, Mark Gettys and Janis Fowler, Field Office (Clemson, SC): “SC Super Absorber,” a new highway wall barrier system that absorbs airborne pollutants, in addition to reducing sound and light pollution.


The Next Generation® competition is supported by sponsors Herman Miller, Maharam, The Mohawk Group, and Sherwin-Williams.


Now in its 26th year, Metropolis continues to lead the industry in sophisticated design coverage and advocacy of sustainable, collaborative design. The Metropolis Site Specific Tour, being hosted by 20 leading architecture and design firms in the United States and Canada during 2007, explores the lessons of regional architecture and design history in implementing 21st-century projects, and features a Metropolis-produced film, “Site Specific: The Legacy of Regional Modernism.” Metropolis’s conferences include Tropical Green and the Design Entrepreneurs Conference held each year during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).

(click on pictures to enlarge)

(Civil Twilight)
City streetlights become a luminous network synchronized with the sky; crescent moon (left), full moon (right)

(Civil Twilight)
Residential streetscape with lunar-resonant streetlights: crescent moon (left), full moon (right)

(Civil Twilight)
Lunar-resonant streetlights respond to ambient moonlight, dimming and brightening as the moon cycles through its monthly phases, as well as clouds and atmospheric conditions. Simple technology: sensitive photocells detect ambient light levels and electronically adjust output; high-efficiency dimmable white LED clusters replace standard sodium bulbs.

© 2007