Skip to main content

Architects in London have designed a shadowless skyscraper

Architects in London have designed a shadowless skyscraper


Two buildings act like mirrors that reflect the Sun instead of cast shadows

Share this story

With around 250 new skyscrapers set to grace the London skyline in the next few years, one local design firm has figured out a way to prevent Londoners from living in the shadows. The firm, NBBJ, designed a pair of buildings that casts sunlight, not shadows, on the streets below, Wired reports.

To achieve the shadowless effect, the architects designed a pair of buildings that work in tandem. One of the buildings works like a giant curved mirror, the glass surface of which reflects sunlight down onto the shadow cast by the other building. Because of the specific shape of the curved building, the reflected light is capable of following the shadow as it moves throughout the day.

No shade here

"The relationship between the sun and shadow is the relationship between the two buildings," NBBJ’s design director Christian Coop told Wired.

NBBJ used the design software Rhinoceros to generate several blueprints that would maximize the reflection of sunlight. With each building iteration, the design team would tweak the requirements until the software produced a building that made structural sense. The design they finally settled on reduces shade by up to 60 percent.

If a giant building reflecting sunlight onto the streets below conjures images of magnifying glasses and fried ants, don't worry — the light is diffuse, and not capable of burning passersby.

As Wired points out, this is not the first time mirrors have been used to reflect the sun in a design capacity. A town in Norway studded its surrounding mountains with 56-foot light reflectors that shed sunlight where the mountains usually cast shadows. Last year, a New York-based architecture firm created a skyscraper concept that shielded workers inside from the sun using hundreds of retractable umbrellas.

Designs like NBBJ's are likely to increase in popularity, especially given that more skyscrapers were built in 2014 than in any previous year.