The new campus of Franklin University is characterized by two distinct architectonic blocks, with...
New Campus Franklin University Switzerland
Architect Flaviano Capriotti
“We designed a dynamic photovoltaic skin to shade and produce energy.“
A dynamic photovoltaic skin

The new campus of Franklin University is characterized by two distinct architectonic blocks, with one being a communal and educational space and one designed for university accommodation. The architecture intended for the public spaces is highly innovative. It is cladded with a dynamic system of white photovoltaic louvres and it features one of Europe’s first vertical photovoltaic louvres that follow the sun’s orientation. This mechanism makes the building more sustainable from an environmental point of view and simultaneously guarantees energy generation and shading within the spaces for greater thermal and visual comfort.

Architectural plan – first floor. Source: Flaviano Capriotti Architetti.

The highly innovative facade is based on the requirement to shade the glass volume in summer (to guarantee low energy consumption and prevent the building overheating) and on the other hand to allow the sun to warm the building in winter.

The external louvres allow optimal management of the natural lighting of the interior spaces.

Building characteristics
  • Building typology
  • Construction type
  • Year of construction
  • Energy reference surface
    3’388 m²
  • Energy index
    27.5 kWh/m²a (heating)
  • Energy labelling
Active solar surface 183 m²
Active solar surface ratio
Peak power 18 kWp
Building skin application Accessories
Storage None
Energy production
Source: energy production simulation (DC)
under monitoring
Building skin
  • Application
    Standard modules are laid on a metallic support system.
  • Description
    Sloped concrete roof insulated with 18 cm of mineral wool.
  • U value
    0.11 W/m²K
  • Fastening system
    Aluminium stands.
  • Application
    Accessories (vertical dynamic shading louvre)
  • Description
    Vertical PV louvre. The louvre is a multifunctional kit including PV modules and a loadbearing metal extrusion; each PV louvre is bonded with two PV modules
  • U value
    External system, no relevant U value
  • Fastening system
    Metal struts on which is included a motor and a reducer

The BIPV system is installed on the new auditorium’s facade on the complex’s west side.

The photovotlaic louvres are fixed on metal struts.

  • Application
  • Description
    Triple glazing with aluminium frame
  • U value
    0.79 – 1.13 W/m²K, glass facade abt. 0.9 W/m²K
  • g value
    ≥ 0.50, glass facade ≥ 0.16

Close-up of the PV facade.

BIPV module
  • Product
    Custom made
  • Manufacturer
  • Cell technology
  • Front glass type/customization
    Float satin glass thickness 4mm uniform Suncol colour “Bianco Traffico”, back float glass 4mm
  • Cell colour
    Black (it is the glass that is coloured)
  • Dimensions
    Thickness 9.5 mm (-0.5mm / +1.5mm). Module size: first floor: 2310x350mm²; second floor: 1830x350mm²
  • Nominal power
    First floor: 81.44 Wp per module; second floor: 64 Wp per module
  • Specific power
    100 Wp/m²
  • Weight
    First floor: 19.2kg (only PV module) + 12.6kg (with metal extrusion); second floor: 15.2kg + 10kg
  • Specific weight
    First floor: 23.75 kg/m² (only PV module) + 5.5 kg/m² (with metal extrusion); second floor: 23.75 kg/m² (only PV module) + 5.5 kg/m² (with metal extrusion)
Technical details

The dynamic photovoltaic louvres have been engineered and manufactured for this specific project. The PV technology is multi crystalline. The tempered 4 mm front glass is float satin and  treated with a uniform layer of Suncol “Bianco Traffico” (white). The PV laminated glass slate has a specific power of 100 Wp/m² and about 18 kWp have been installed.

The PV slats are fastened to a metal substructure and are controlled by a motor. According to an algorithm, they will follow the sun’s orientation optimizing energy production and indoor comfort. Moreover the PV modules were optimized to increase their shading tolerance, in particular to avoid the slats’ self-shading mismatching with the PV modules. The internal circuit of each PV louvre has been subdivided vertically into two “electrically independent ” columns. Thanks to this particular implementation the energetic yield of the PV module, in comparison with standard non optimized PV solutions, is expected to increase by 20%.

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Vertical section
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  • Total cost of the building
  • Price per m³  

Rear facade adjacent to the new exterior spaces.

Parties involved
  • Owner
    Franklin University Switzerland
  • Architect
    Flaviano Capriotti Architetti
  • Research partner
    SUPSI supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)
  • Photovoltaic Installer
    Aziende Industriali di Lugano (AIL) SA
  • Facade installer
    Kummler+Matter SA
  • Photo
    Franklin University Switzerland and Leo Torri
Awards and recognitions
  • Publications

    BIPVdShading Interim Report. Publisher: Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE