Art installation provides a window on energy conservation

Published November 7, 2007

A night time view of Regent College’s wind tower illuminated by solar energy.

The first photovoltaic art glass – which combines the ancient art of stained glass with the latest solar technology – was recently installed at Regent College, a graduate school of Christian studies affiliated with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Designed by internationally renowned architectural glass artist Sarah Hall, the stained glass design, titled “Lux Nova,” is the central element of a wind tower in the new $10-million theology library at Regent College. The aerodynamic 12-metre wind tower, designed by architect Clive Grout in collaboration with Walter Frankl Architects, acts as a natural ventilation system for the underground library building.

“The engineering for this tower was both innovative and elegant; Hall’s task was to bring further beauty and interest to the tower; while continuing the theme of alternative energy,” said the designer and architect in a press statement.

“At the heart of the glass design … is a luminous column of light flowing like a waterfall in silvery blue, violet and white. Included in this column is an array of solar cells that will collect energy during the day and use it for nighttime illumination – acting as a beacon for the surrounding park,” the statement said. The design includes 12 dichroic glass crosses, which create an ever-changing rainbow of colour. Woven through the flowing waterfall of light is the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic.

Regent College president Rod Wilson said the tower and art glass installation “are a perfect expression of our values;” the college, he added, “has a rich history of seeking to integrate faith into all spheres of life.”

Ms. Hall said she drew her inspiration of incorporating solar cells into her art glass installation from the “vast and attractive energy-collecting facades” that she saw in Europe. “Stained glass has a 1,000-year history,” she said. “Using solar energy is one way of bringing new technology to an art form that most people consider traditional and unchanging.” (Solar cells are thin silicon and metal squares that convert available light into electricity without emitting greenhouse gases, believed to be harmful to the environment.)

Inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 2002, Ms. Hall received a national award in 2004 for Leading Women: Arts & Culture, in recognition of her leadership in the visual arts. She attended the architectural glass program at Swansea College of Art in Wales.

For more information about the project and Ms. Hall’s design, visit


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