Eco-business / Social Venture

December 25, 2010


Kyoto University Develops Artificial Shade Structure Inspired by Natural Trees

Keywords: Eco-business / Social Venture University / Research institute 

A prototype of the artificial shade structure "Fractal Shade" was installed at the rooftop patio of Lalaport Toyosu, a large-scale shopping mall in Tokyo, in September 2010. The shade had been developed by a research team led by Dr. Satoshi Sakai, a professor of Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. Its structural design is modeled on natural tree branches and leaves, and allows the air to pass through while blocking sunlight, thereby providing the same cooling effect as natural shade.

Based on the hypothesis that high ground temperature and radiant heat are the prime reasons for people feeling hot during the daytime in urban areas, the team studied ways to lower the ground surface temperature. Inspired by the fact that the surface of leaves does not retain heat even under direct sunlight, the team adopted Sierpinski Tetrahedrons, a geometric pattern similar to the structure of natural tree branches and leaves.

In their experiments, the artificial shade cooled the area it covered by up to 15 degrees Celsius, as compared to sun-exposed ground areas, and the temperature of the shade itself was up to 20 degrees Celsius lower than flat building roofs. The perceived temperature under the shade was two to three degrees Celsius cooler.

The team has installed the prototypes at several locations since 2009, including on a rooftop of the office building of Kokuyo Co., a major office supplies manufacturer, located in Shinagawa, Tokyo, on the Kyoto University campus, and on a shopping mall rooftop in Kagoshima. It is expected to mitigate the urban heat island effect. A plastic products manufacturer is currently seeking to commercialize the technology.

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Posted: 2010/12/25 06:00:15 AM