The Soft Cities project creates an adaptable energy harvesting textile system that operates between the urban scale of infrastructure and the discrete, small scale ownership structures of residential urban districts. Urbanism, architecture, engineering and material science intersect as the project explores the technical and aesthetic performance of a textile infrastructure, the domestic and urban space it constructs through its use, and an energy delivery model which engages mass manufacturing processes to create significant cost and installation advantages over conventional building integrated photovoltaics.

Prototypes for a textile co-generation infrastructure with a very low carbon footprint were supported by a MITEI Grant to reduce environmental strain and facilitate the re-occupation of 25,000 row houses in the Casa Burguesa district of the City of Porto in Portugal. Daily household energy use savings of over 60% can be achieved with 15 square meter textiles, or about 10% of the typical roof area.

In the Soft Cities active roofscape, rooftop laundry is accompanied by autonomous energy production. New urban reciprocities are discovered as the interior depth of the row house section is turned inside out to allow the solar textiles to charge. The adaptability and reproducibility of the Soft Cities model can be extended to dense urban districts in many areas of the world.

Date: 2009 - Ongoing
Status: Prototypes Completed, Research Ongoing
Client: KVA MATx Initiated Research Project
Location: Porto, Portugal
Design Team:
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA; Principal in Charge
Patricia Gruits LEED AP, Sloan Kulper IDSA, Heather Micka-Smith, Kyle Barker
Interns: Eletha Flores, Murat Mutly, Adnan Zolj
Architect: Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd
Associate Architect: Agencia Arquitectura Thenasie & Valentim, Porto
Educational Support: Agencia de Energia do Porto (AdE); Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto (FEUP); MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)

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