Ultimate eco-roof for Miami shopping centre

Rendering of solar data for Swire Properties Brickell City Centre

A new shopping centre in Miami is to be equipped with the ultimate eco-roof to protect shoppers from Florida’s heat and rain while providing natural ventilation. The design for the 5.4m sq ft mixed use Brickell City Centre incorporates a 150,000sq ft Climate Ribbon™, a trellis made of glass, steel and fabric, which flows along the top of the retail concourse to keep pedestrians comfortable.

The centre, which is set to open in phases from the end of this year, is being developed by Swire Properties and is designed by Arquitectonica. Arquitectonica vice president AnneCotter said of the roof, “It provides shading from the sun while also allowing views of the sky; it is glazed to protect pedestrians from rain and designed to collect an estimated 5m gallons of rain water annually that sheets off into cisterns to irrigate all the landscaping. It is shaped as if lifted by a breeze while modeled to encourage Miami’s prevailing breezes to flow through the concourse”.

Features of the design include:

  • The surface is a dynamic series of flat, inclined planes positioned at variable angles. The positioning of each plane and its relation to its neighbour is the result of analysis of sun paths, wind patters and the need for flexibility in the structure
  • The slope of each plane facilitates drainage of rainwater into storage cisterns for re-use
  • Roof planes are supported by a white steel frame structure
  • An upper glazed skin provides protection from rain and is a partial solar filter
  • Inside the shopping centre a series of fabric ‘blades’ provides solar shading. This gives the centre a sheltered but open air environment
  • Towards its eastern end the structure lifts to create a ‘scoop’ to capture summer winds. Other parts of the structure act as similar scoops, providing a flow of air of 6-9 knots in speed, to keep the temperature of public spaces comfortable.

The analysis and detailed design was done in collaboration with Paris-based Hugh Dutton Associates, and with the help of Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. CMU Assistant professor Dale Clifford and his students came up with ideas for the centre including:

  • Solar petals that would curl when they absorbed a targeted amount of solar energy
  • Pixel tiles that can help stabilize temperature by changing their opacity and thermal storage
  • Stalks that respond to local wind patterns, generate electricity and light up while doing so.

Cotter said the design options the CMU team proposed for Brickell City Centre were breaking new ground for integrating new technologies into large-scale building developments.

Design for Brickell City Centre

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