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  • O-24 Licht:A Project Combining Art and Applied Research
  • Angelo Stagno and Andrea van der Straeten

Due to climatic and economic changes resulting from post-capitalist globalization, the exploration of new forms of energy beyond conventional fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and gas is gaining importance. There is a concurrent movement in architecture to develop more sustainable building materials. To date, however, efforts to implement both alternative energy sources and building materials in construction plans have been possible only in very limited ways.

The project 0-24 Licht, by the architect- and-artist duo stagno/van der straeten, evolved from a concept developed by Angelo Stagno in 1999 for a high-rise building in Vienna [1]. The proposed structure, in addition to incorporating alternative building materials, envisioned new infrastructural technologies, including methods of transporting light. A competition calling for an art installation for Vienna's new Haus der Forschung (House of Scientific Research) offered us the chance to realize part of Stagno's proposed infrastructure (Fig. 1).

"Why are the cables hanging down from the ceiling? Are they live? Isn't the building finished yet?" These are questions asked by visitors when they first view the 0-24 Licht installation in Haus der Forschung (Fig. 2). If at first glance the installation appears careless and haphazard, closer examination reveals it to be both extremely precise and highly innovative.

0-24 Licht transforms solar energy through the direct conduction of sunlight rather than through traditional photovoltaic systems. A heliostat installed on the roof of Haus der Forschung captures natural light and transmits it via systems in place over the entrance to the building, by which the light is fed into fiber optic cables that bring the sunlight into the interior of the building (Color Plate D). The sunlight emerging from the cables hanging from the foyer ceiling can actually be seen and touched. It is a cold light. The transmission by cable of light from the roof occurs instantaneously; if a cloud passes in front of the sun, the light from the cables immediately weakens. Even in the case of diffuse light, however, the luminescence emerging from the cables is still perceptible. Fiber optic cables have (as yet) no storage ability. However, should research succeed in creating better, farther-reaching fiber optic cables and ways of storing this "captured" light—as the latest developments appear to indicate—the project could well be adapted to incorporate these technological advances.

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Fig. 1.

stagno/van der straeten, 0-24 Licht, installation at Haus der Forschung, Vienna, Austria. (© stagno/van der straeten) Sidewalk view of Haus der Forschung, with 0-24 Licht components visible on the roof.

The installation's innovative method of sunlight transport relies on a new combination of existing infrastructure system components that have been [End Page 440] applied only recently. The Austrian lighting company Bartenbach LichtLabor has been working on methods of conducting sunlight and prismatically refracting it for potential illumination and utilization of large spaces; the Swedish company Parans Daylight AB makes Skyport systems that supply fiber optic cables with sunlight. 0-24 Licht combines these systems with a sensor-controlled heliostat system, made by SMS-Solar of Switzerland, that makes it possible to channel the light across a distance of 25 meters from sunrise to sunset with constant intensity (barring any cloudiness) through cables into the interior of the building; the system works autonomically and blends technically into the building in a discreet and efficient way.

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Fig. 2.

stagno/van der straeten, 0-24 Licht, installation at Haus der Forschung, Vienna, Austria. (© stagno/van der straeten) Fiber optic cables hanging from the ceiling of the Haus der Forschung lobby.

As the first known application of sunlight transport using this combination of technical components, 0-24 Licht in its current incarnation remains a prototype system with all the consequent costs and risks, both technical and financial [2]. 0-24 Licht now requires further research and experimentation to extend the economic possibilities of any future applications. It is not inconceivable that in the future this use of light energy, thanks to new materials and techniques...


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pp. 440-441
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