Design an External Solar Shade

This challenge is now closed. Congratulations to Method Design on winning with their entry HSS: Hyperbolic Solar Shade


Controlling the way sunlight enters a space has been a design problem for architects since we began building shelters. This challenge seeks to create a beautiful external shading solution that is adaptable to various solar positions and orientations. The context is an existing commercial office building in Phoenix, AZ. The intent is to encourage creative approaches to energy efficiency retrofits of typical twentieth century building stock. Successful projects will use empirical and/or analytical methods to clearly demonstrate a significant reduction of solar radiation, while maintaining adequate and evenly distributed daylight levels. Below is a more detailed list of the requirements and submission guidelines. As a bonus for the first 10 people to submit a proposal, CASE will review and provide feedback on the submission.


  • Building is located in Phoenix, AZ: Lat: 33°29’ Long: 112°4’
  • Corner building retrofit, no external obstructions
  • Spec office building - internally loaded
  • Typical curtain-wall construction


  • Minimize solar gains year round with an emphasis on summer (June, July, August)
  • Maintain adequate daylight levels for office work - (250 - 500 lux / 25 - 50 fc)
  • System should be adaptable and installable in a variety of conditions
  • Design should be beautiful (Don't just put a box over the windows :) )


  • Post editable documentation (3d and/or 2d)
  • Post images (optional)
  • Post diagrams explaining approach (optional)
  • Post video explaining approach (optional)



Sunday January 30th at 11:59pm EST

16 Responses, 14 Comments show comments
HSS: Hyperbolic Solar Shade

HSS: Hyperbolic Solar Shade

The HSS is a unique shading device that responds to the specific coordinates and orientation of proposed site in Phoenix, Arizona. The proposed device began analyzing standard solar geometries via true...

Reese Campbell's picture Reese Campbell
Partner 0

Method Design
0 challenges 1 responses
12 comments show comments
Origami Shading

Maximizing daylighting availability and protecting the interior space from excessive solar radiation are main goals of this proposal. Studying the available weather data showed the need to an adaptive system during the year. In order to achieve...

mostapha and alaleh's picture mostapha and alaleh

0 challenges 1 responses
16 comments show comments
Undulating Shade

This proposal consists of a series of cylindrical elements arranged in a grid of points. The radius are calculated so they won’t be bigger than the distance to the closest point avoiding exaggerated overlaps. In order to provide enough solar...

Mario Guidoux's picture Mario Guidoux
Partner 0

Porto Alegre
0 e 1 Arquitetos
0 challenges 1 responses
6 comments show comments

This design is a response to the Ecotect analysis of direct sun into the office space: Between June and August, the east facade received the greatest amount of direct daylight between between 8 AM and 11 AM. Surprisingly, the south facade had few...

bluebarracuda's picture bluebarracuda

Ball State University
0 challenges 1 responses
3 comments show comments
Folding Shutter Shade

Our initial study model focuses on integrating the functionality of light shelves into an operable vertical shutter system. When fully open, the shutters form horizontal louvers that provide overshadowing to local glazing, as well as reflecting...

Jeremy Stroebel's picture Jeremy Stroebel

Ball State University
0 challenges 1 responses
3 comments show comments
Shaded by Nature

natural vertical design element
ornamental grass

quick facts:

grasses are adaptable and can grow in poorer soils
better than many other garden plants

grasses require little effort to maintain...

Agnieszka Coletta's picture Agnieszka Coletta

0 challenges 1 responses
5 comments show comments

The main goal of the design is extreme flexibility which allows for new ways of shading/cooling a structure. The design follows concepts found in biology, namely the ability to expand and contract as well as have a free range of motion like a...

Mark Paz's picture Mark Paz

New York
Columbia GSAPP
0 challenges 1 responses
3 comments show comments
Shade Sail Facade

Translucent shade sails provide double duty in acting as a shading mechanism and as a light shelf. They diffuse and shade while reflecting light into the occupied spaces.

The proposed assembly is supported by horizontal cantilevered...

Jake Boen's picture Jake Boen
Principal Architect 0

In Place Architecture
0 challenges 1 responses
4 comments show comments
1 Module : Multiple Possibilities


We see this project as a re-skinning solution to make a building more sustainable in terms of energy efficiency. The process of designing this project followed a sequence of questions:
"Do we have to...

Sergio Sanz Pont + Victor Sanz Pont's picture Sergio Sanz Pont + Victor Sanz Pont
Architects 0

sanzpont [arquitectura]
0 challenges 2 responses
3 comments show comments
Sombra Del Nuevo "Shade from 9"

Sombra Del Nuevo is about understanding the problem and providing a solution. This creation is an exterior shade solution of nine aluminum fins. The controls allow the fins to not only move in the vertical direction but also allow for change in...

Adam Riddle's picture Adam Riddle
Designer 0

Offshoot Design
0 challenges 1 responses
2 comments show comments

The TRANSFORMER is an dynamic, intelligent sun shading system that continuously adjusts to maintain specific solar heat gains and day lighting levels, set by the building’s system manager. Each system component consists of three shades which act...

1PEOPLE's picture 1PEOPLE

Ball State University
0 challenges 1 responses
0 comments show comments
Static but Flexible
Luigi Coletta's picture Luigi Coletta
Designer 0

0 challenges 3 responses
4 comments show comments
Simple Solar Shading

Simple Solar Shading or as I like to call it Keep it simple shading.

My idea is the use of timber cladding boards which twist to the clients desire. Using a mechanical steel bar system that when twisted or turned at the desired location...

Chris Van Essen's picture Chris Van Essen
Architectural Technician 0

Southampton Solent University
0 challenges 1 responses
2 comments show comments
Adjustable Louver panel/louvers

The louvers panels and the louvers will be adjustable, the panel will be able to open and close as the client requires and anywhere in between. The louvers in the panels will also be adjustable. All movement/adjustment will controlled by a...

Derik (FP) Venter's picture Derik (FP) Venter
Mr 0

Port Elizabeth
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (Port Elizabeth, South Africa)
0 challenges 1 responses
3 comments show comments
Accordion Shade [not eligible to win]

Here is small file I put together to try and get things moving :) I also made a video of how it was built with grasshopper that will be posted to DesignReform.

Feel free to use this as a launching point for your design but take note...

David Fano's picture David Fano
Partner 0

New York
3 challenges 1 responses
2 comments show comments
solar shade

The solar shade is an aerodynamic fin that can be installed into any existing or newly designed shading system. The fin has micro inverters so that if one goes into shade the ones in the sun still work. It can be installed horizontally,...

Peter Hillermann's picture Peter Hillermann
Intern Architect 0

Westall Architects Inc.
0 challenges 1 responses
1 comments show comments