Intelligent Skins: Daylight harvesting through dynamic light-deflection in office spaces

  • Mohamed El Sheikh
  • Karen Kensek
Keywords: kinetic façade, daylight harvesting, interactive architecture, intelligent skin, building envelope


The building envelope is the critical interface between the occupants and the outdoors. This surface has the ability to be interactive; it can incorporate intelligent features, activated by sensors that respond in real time to a change in environmental conditions. A kinetic façade could use simple movements of louvers, complex transformable panels, or even variable material characteristics such as transparency or reflectivity that react to stimuli. Daylight harvesting is one area where a kinetic façade can be used to help achieve lower energy consumption in office buildings while also mitigating some of the negative impacts of introducing natural lighting into a building including uneven distribution of day lighting, illumination levels above or below the recommended range, and excessive heat gain affecting thermal comfort. This paper provides a brief insight on the primary author’s current thesis work regarding light-deflection techniques. It explains the objectives of the research work and documents simulation runs for the first phase of performance analysis including initial modelling and analysis of a parametric panel system. Although these initial studies focus on relatively simple geometries, it is intended that the method of analysis will be applied to increasingly complex forms to demonstrate that a kinetic façade system can be both aesthetically compatible to complex geometries and contribute to better energy performance of a building. The study focuses on investigating the effectiveness of light deflection in dynamic secondary skin layer in terms of daylighting performance, quality and quantity, in south-facing indoor spaces using a set of performance criteria. A simple example was developed and simulations run to see if the performance criteria could be achieved using Rhino as a modelling tool, Grasshopper as a parametric interface, DIVA for daylight evaluation, and Galapagos for problem solving. The authors hypothesize that the integration of light deflection techniques in an intelligent dynamic panel system allows for the enhancement of daylight harvesting, quantity and quality, inside south-facing spaces.

Author Biographies

Mohamed El Sheikh
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Karen Kensek
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
How to Cite
El Sheikh, M., & Kensek, K. (2014). Intelligent Skins: Daylight harvesting through dynamic light-deflection in office spaces. ARCC Conference Repository.