Electricity Aesthetics

While residing in the Tucson area a few years back, I visited the Architectural Department of the University of Arizona with one question: Why – in this physically ideal and favorable political environment for alternative energy – were there so few applications of photovoltaic systems to be seen on the region’s rooftops?

Of the small grouping to whom I addressed the question, a smartly dressed woman with an air of authority replied that PVs were not sufficiently advanced or cost effective to warrant their incorporation with rooftop design. However, there was enough irritated defensiveness in her voice to suspect the answer was more excuse than reason.

Later, after and reading a local newspaper article conveying the aesthetic complaints of neighbors having to view a proposed building’s solar-paneled roof, I guessed that architectural aesthetic purity was the real culprit.To some extent at least, I would have to agree that most examples of rooftop PV systems are not pretty.

What seems to be ignored in this judgement, however, is the longstanding acceptance of overhead wires supplying electricity from elsewhere going every which way as if scribbled by a child artist.


The result essentially mars otherwise good views be they natural or manmade as shown of Bellingham Bay from million dollar homes or toward the classic beauty of a nearby Catholic Church.

Alternatively, if one could imagine the building below without its electrical umbilical, I think its roof at least approaches what can be a satisfying harmony between aesthetics and the practicality of generating one’s own electricity with space remaining for the former. In addition to posing optimal alignment for such, I believe the complementary roof scheme of the Cube-based Abode poses a roof of deeper rectilinearity by which an architect can make the functionality of a roof’s PV and cooling albedo reflection aesthetic in myriad ways – even before considering the variance in material texture and color.


So designed, such a roof becomes more attuned to the model given by nature with the protection of tree leaf shingles serving photosynthetic functions. A roof with functional solar elements can be more aesthetic than one without – just as a wall with doors, windows, etc. is more interesting than a blank one. To have a roof function thus means less space for PV. But as proferred in a previous post, covering a mere half the load (the electronic half) is a very reasonable and laudable goal.

Utility electricity would still be needed for motorized refers, ACs, etc. Strained efforts to do the very hard work of getting loosely bound electrons to march in the same direction of a conductor’s very bumpy road also manifests as giant airplane propellers such as these atop richly forested mountains outside Burney, California.


Some folks think such displays are beautiful but I would have agree with Trump on this one in that they pose goofy eyesores. Conversely, ever-aligned vertical axis wind turbines set atop poles supporting wires to poles supporting other lines of underground cables offer generation and transmission in a manner that complements the beauty of nature.

This entry was posted in Code Application, Contemporary Relevance, Cube-based Abodes, Philosophic Bases and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


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