In what’s being described as the first such facility of its kind, Singapore has announced SkyLab – a rotating rooftop facility designed as a state-of-the-art testing facility for energy efficient technologies and architectural techniques. Created by the city-state’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA), in cooperation with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, the SkyLab is in fact inspired by Lawrence Berkeley’s FLEXLAB, which is described as ‘the world’s most advanced building efficiency test bed’ – but doesn’t rotate.
Like its Californian counterpart, however, SkyLab is designed as a flexible and ‘hackable’ space to test, measure and evaluate energy-saving technologies and construction techniques and materials across four distinct categories: air conditioning and mechanical ventilation, lighting, facades and plug and control strategies. “It features two configurable test compartments (i.e. the reference cell and the test cell) that enable study of design solutions and performance validation of technologies, against a base setup or benchmark code,” reads the BCA’s announcement.
What makes the SkyLab unique is not only that it serves as a testing space for energy efficiency in a tropical climate that traditionally demands high consumption, but its rotatable format means that both architectural and technological techniques and infrastructure being tested can be put through all manner of sun orientations to get a bigger picture. “This allows the study of the performance of building systems, building energy use and indoor environmental parameters change in a variety of orientations relative to the sun. Such studies are potentially useful for studies in cooling, lighting and shading strategies. The BCA SkyLab will be located on the roof top to avoid being blocked by neighboring buildings,” explains the BCA’s official website.
A community lounge is also a key differentiator of SkyLab, as the space encourages the exchange of knowledge and expertise between visiting academics, researchers and industry professionals.