Solar Shade

Developing products from students’ work.

In the Smart Green Schools Studio, Kathleen Turner proposed that outdoor shade umbrellas could be used to harvest solar energy in school-grounds. It would be possible to see the harvest levels and learn about solar energy production and storage while sitting under the shades, using the attached touch-screen. Kathleen proposed that the information be used on a broad scale for education.

VEIL chose to pick this concept up for further investigation, and in a series of post-production workshops developed a brief with the design team from Büro North.

Büro North has now evolved the concept to this new level, which engages the public in the connection between energy and the environment.

The shade can be rotated during the day to follow the best orientation for energy collection as well as shade distribution, and the underside of the shade uses LED’s to show whether the energy collection is optimised in the current position. New proposals suggest that the pupils will turn the shades during their time outdoors at school, and also that portable energy storage devices could be recharged directly from the shades. The response to the proposal has been extremely positive, and further developments are anticipated. VEIL is a project of the Victorian Government Sustainability Fund.