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Culture

Smart windows create dance of light in response to wind and sun

A window installation by artist Simon Heijdens is connected to wind and sun sensors, which create a dazzling play of changing light.

Video gif by Michelle Starr/CNET

Now this would be something we would love to have installed in our homes: an art installation by London-based Dutch artist and designer Simon Heijdens that creates a mesmerising play of light indoors based on external stimuli.

Called Shade, it consists of 140 square metres of glass panelling, divided into triangular cells, each of which is coated with a special film. This film changes opacity based on two things: sunlight and wind. As the sun moves across the sky during the day, the light shifts from sharp in the morning to softer in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, wind blowing outside the building changes individual cells from opaque to clear and back again in rapid succession.

"As the patterns of wind and the quality of light are constantly changing throughout the day, the interior space regains the unplanned character of the outdoors," Heijdens' website reads. "At night, the principle is inverted, and interior light is filtered to the outside and projects the kaleidoscopic pattern on to the surrounding pavement."

Heijdens has been exhibiting iterations of Shade since 2010, but this version -- commissioned by and currently showing at London's Now Gallery -- is the largest to date. Although Heijdens is reticent about the technologies behind his work -- wanting to retain a sense of wonder for viewers -- the gallery describes the work as an "intelligent skin" coating the windows, creating a "kaleidoscope of light and shadow choreographed by the elements, translating the unplanned natural timeline of the outdoor to the indoor space".

You can watch it in action in the video below, and read more about Heijdens' work on his official website.