Professor: Dr. Yun Kyu Yi


Reinventing a Historical Building Typology

University of Pennsylvania

This project is focused on the design of a sustainable lighthouse off the coast of Isola del Giglio, near Punta Gabbianara Italy. This particular site has significance as it is the location where the cruise ship Costa Concordia infamously ran aground in 2012 resulting in the loss of 32 lives.

The premise is to use genetic algorithms, specifically Galapagos for Grasshopper, to optimize a lighthouse geometry to reflect the suns rays (using the raytrace method) during critical moments during the year: sunrise and sunset on July 31 and December 31. It is assumed that a light will be needed during the evening, however at these moments the sun is lowest in the sky and at an optimum angle for reflecting its rays toward ships entering or leaving the darkness of the day. The moments in the early morning and evening, sunrise and sunset, are most critical as these are the dimmest times of the day where a lighthouse would be most crucial during the day. The cross-sectional shape is derived by optimizing for maximum stability in elevated wind speeds using Cradle ScStream and Ansys Fluent.

The variables to be studied and optimized using GA are:
-height of the tower
-curvature of the tower (convexity or concavity)
-twist of the tower (rotational position of the tower peak relative to the base)
-rotation of the tower as a whole

By then maximizing the number of intersections between these reflected rays and the primary adjacent shipping paths within the human optical range (approximately 30mi), including the one on which sailed the Costa Concordia, an optimum geometry can be reached for these times of year. Finally, these resulting geometries will be joined to create a logically-defined multi-faceted collection of surfaces that will split the suns rays most effectively throughout the year. This final geometry for each location can then be analyzed for annual incident solar radiation to optimally assign the facets as either solid or highly reflective, metallic surfaces. The primary inefficiency of a lighthouse is directly related to its maintenance; by minimizing the reliance upon mechanical components, over efficiency can be improved.

Three different locations, all ports with varying levels of ship traffic: Isola Giglio, Italy; Hel Peninsula, Poland; and Cape May, New Jersey.