Researchers in Zurich have created the Zero Carbon Building Systems Lab which can simulate different climatic conditions to test new building systems, components and materials.
The position of the sun, the composition of its radiation, the temperature and humidity can be adjusted to correspond to almost any point on Earth on any day of the year.
At the heart of the lab is a world first:
artificial sun made of hundreds of powerful light-emitting diodes. These are fixed to a movable arm, allowing the system to imitate the sun's path in different locations.
In addition to the artificial-sun room, there are two other test cells on the south side of the building that are exposed to natural sunlight and the outdoor climate.
What makes the lab special is that the outer walls, ceilings and floors of the three research cells can be removed and fitted with prototypes.
In this way, building components that are being developed in the Robotic Fabrication Lab next door, for example, can be immediately tested in their full size for its performance and refined more quickly.
In one research cell these is a semi-transparent façade made of printed polymer, whose structure either deflects sunlight or allows it to pass through, depending on the angle of incidence.
Soon to be tested are also 3D-printed components for façades that, thanks to an ingenious macrostructure, can passively conduct solar heat from the façade to the building interior or act as insulators if required.
The lab aims to help make the construction and operation of buildings climate neutral.