Annually, 1.3 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer, currently representing more than 50% of all cancers in the US. Childhood exposure to the sun’s UltraViolet (UV) light increases the risk for skin cancer as an adult substantially. Children depend upon adults for protection. Starting positive sun protection early is therefore key to reducing the incidence of this disease. Primary prevention strategies include (i) increasing awareness in individuals and (ii) implementing preventive measures such as seeking effective built shading. Natural shade provided by trees does not offer adequate UV protection. Commercial shades are mostly driven by aesthetic appeal and uniformity “one design fits all” and often fail to cast shade over the desired area. Effective shading should not only block UV light but also offer adequate thermal comfort. When carried out in metal or tarpaulin, the hot rising summer air gets trapped and creates an unbearable microclimate underneath the shade. The protective ability of a shade depends on its orientation in relation to the seasonal and hourly incidence angle of the sun. This site-specificity and time dependency is ignored in commercially available shading systems.

We  developed and tested the digital design to manufacturing workflow for a novel type of shell that efficiently shades and passively cools/heats outdoor areas using location specificity at low economic cost. This grid shell of angled louver beams is climatically and structurally optimized for each specific geographic location.

This project is supported by the Helen Shipley Hunt Fund.