TECHNOLOGY   |   Carolyn Feinstein   |   July 13, 2020

TECHNOLOGY   |   Carolyn Feinstein

July 13, 2020

Award-winning solar designer, Marjan van Aubel, will be presenting a true work of scientific art at the Dutch Biotope pavilion during the Expo 2020 Dubai, (which has been postponed 1 year due to the pandemic). As the designer of numerous innovations in energy efficiency, van Aubel has released functional designs that harness and produce energy from renewable sources while enhancing the aesthetic of the element. Marjan van Aubel's contribution to the Dutch Biotope pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is anticipated to be nothing less than stellar.

The Dutch Biotope pavilion was designed to be a closed-loop climate built from locally sourced materials, with the theme of connecting energy, water, and food solutions. Marjan van Aubel, in collaboration with a consortium that includes architects and engineers, has created translucent solar panels made of organic materials that will serve as a power source for the pavilion.

The color tinted solar panels are unique in a few ways. The panels, which are circular rather than the traditional rectangular shape, employ a titanium dioxide nanomaterial covered in organic light-absorbing dyes that turn sunlight into electricity. The flexible solar panels, made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), will have the appearance of stained glass, reflecting patterns of color onto the walls and floors below. Marjan van Aubel compares the visual impact to "as if you are standing in a gigantic modern church".

Wood paneled interior of the Dutch pavilion featuring stained glass looking translucent solar panels that cast colored shadows and reflections

Image Credit: V8 Architects

The tinted panels of the roof will be repurposed after the temporary installation at the pavilion. Per van Aubel, the roof was designed "in such a way that it is easily taken apart and can be re-used/assembled again". With a lifespan that could reach 50 years, she articulated the importance of being able to use the panels to their fullest extent because there is no current method to recycle the materials used to construct them.

Marjan van Aubel has a celebrated career as a solar designer, having received numerous accolades including the Dutch Design Award in 2019 and being named Designer of the Future by Swarovski in 2017. She is described as a "solar designer whose innovative practice spans the field of sustainability, design, and technology". Her works, like the Current Table 2.0 (pictured below) gracefully marry beauty, function, and innovation to create works of art that will benefit society. The Current Table 2.0 utilizes dye-sensitized solar cells to create electric currents, even in diffuse light, mimicking the process of photosynthesis in plants to charge an integrated battery. This type of innovation and forward thinking is what stands to revolutionize how we create and use power in our daily lives.

A modern gold frame table dining table with a rose gold glass top, integrated with dye-sensitized solar cells that create electrical current.

Image Credit: Mitch Payne for Marjan van Aubel

The 1-year postponement of the Expo 2020 Dubai means we will have to wait to see this grand accomplishment, but the delay will only serve to grow our anticipation for the unveiling of this innovative, functional art.