The SolOpticon is a ground based solar thermal collector intended to be installed adjacent to the building in combination with garden and groundworks features.
In the example configuration shown above the forms are intended to bring to mind the astronomical relationship between the human scale of the place and the Sun. There are references to optical instruments, telescopes, stone age observatories, and orbital paths. The concentrating reflector is made of mosaic tiles and is in classical proportional relationship the structure and the paved square. The forms embody the relationship of its material with its purpose as a solar collector. Providing a sculptural intervention that intends to engage the mind in the cosmic scale physical processes involved in solar energy collection.
Being upright, they receive light from all angles. This omni-directional absorption means that the collector’s orientation is not critical. They accept light that is reflected from all of the surroundings. Hence energy levels can be enhanced by using built features to reflect the light toward the desired collection zone, thus opening up many options for architectural and landscape design that enhance the efficacy of the collectors.
The SolOpticon can be installed in a number of ways. e.g. On top of walls, on plinths, or posts high above the ground, it may be integrated into apertures in walls, etc, etc. Light concentrating features may be walls, benches or paving. Solaesthetic Research and Design has invented a form of paving and wall facing, the Genius Foci, which is a system that uses a Fresnel mirror lensing principle to direct light in a way that can be tuned for the specific location and latitude.
Visual responsiveness is high on the design agenda. The SolOpticon is designed to be sympathetically integrated with many types of host building. For the collecting element we use transparent cylinders containing coloured glass spheres. They may be installed in combination with a host of materials stone, ceramic, wood, whichever suits the context best.
The columnar vertical component is significantly more sympathetic than diagonal planes to the aesthetics of buildings and gardens. When installed, they can be walked amongst and kept as part of the usable space of the grounds or garden.
The pole-like structures are filled with refractive glass spheres, which can also be used as lights with the inclusion of LED lamps. They can be even placed within water features, with no detriment to their function as a solar-collector.
The transparency, reflective and refractive qualities of the SolOpticon, literally reflect the visual qualities of the buildings, garden and sky in their aesthetic behaviour. The coloured spheres can be any colour or a mixture of colours. En-masse they give a unique jewel-like visual quality.