In recent weeks, glass has presented itself as the latest bottleneck of skyscraper production. Apparently with the new boom of apartment buildings, the glass manufacturers that didn’t went bust during the credit crunch now have problems keeping up with the demand. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, the costs of curtain walls have risen more than 30% in the past 18 months and some construction stand idle waiting for the glass to arrive (for desperate developers, here is a free tip!)
Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom in the land of skyscraper glass. Two innovations presented themselves that could determine the appearance of the future skyscraper.
The first development is solar windows which is what you think it is, being glass windows that produce energy. As with many innovations this one based on existing ideas with the difference that now they actually work, or claims of same tenor. This is where startups come in. This one is called SolarWindow and its focus is on producing transparent coatings that turn windows into mini power plants. In this case, the game changer would be transparency. I’m not sure if the example pictured below will win users over, but claims of a payback time on investment of one year sure makes it interesting for investors.
The second startup idea is smart glass. This involves glass that changes brightness in response to weather conditions, or through a smartphone app. It compares to the use of sunglasses. The company behind this idea is called View and already raised many millions. They’ve been around since 2010 and already have a nice portfolio to boost suggestion it’s in working order. I haven’t been able to find out whether the change of the darkness of the glass also affects the look of the exterior of the skyscraper, or if this involves changing the brightness of one color though, but if it would you’re going to see another type of skyscraper.
The self-evident idea off course would be for these companies to merge and come up with one awesome piece of glass that would create energy, allow for the brightness of the glass and come up with an idea to change the color of the glass just like you can control with the Hue lights!
top photo credit: michael at flickrshare this!