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23 April 2024

World’s first air-powered shading system ready to scale at Masdar City

By E247

Airshade, the world’s first air-powered shading system, has concluded its first round of testing at Masdar City, an Abu Dhabi, UAE-based sustainable urban community known for incubating innovative climate-change solutions. 

The Airshade prototype, first envisioned by a Netherlands-based startup called Airshade Technologies, has been undergoing testing at Masdar City’s solar plant testing site for the last eight months. Its design is inspired by the leaves on a tree: Just as the leaves on a tree move with the sun to cast shade, Airshade, using award-winning technology, uses pressure caused by changing air temperatures to open and close throughout the day. The system is fully nature-based and operates without the use of sensors, motors, or electricity. 

“Airshade began with a simple conversation at the World Future Energy Summit,” said Chris Wan, Masdar City’s associate director of sustainability and CSR. “That conversation grew into an idea for a collaboration. That idea turned into a prototype that we tested at Masdar City, and now we’re looking at potential applications for a first-of-its kind shading system that requires no power, no motor, and no cabling. This is a common story at Masdar City, where we work with dozens of start-ups on innovative climate change solutions. Small companies can do big things—we see it every day.”

The prototype is designed to be expanded into a large architectural sculpture that would provide dynamic shading in a large community space such as a park without the need for electricity. It could also be used to provide dynamic shading for a building façade to improve energy efficiency.

“We’re still evaluating the next steps for scaling Airshade, but we are extremely grateful to Masdar City for the opportunity and the visionary courage to take an innovation concept to reality,” said Nikola Znaor, the founder of Airshade Technologies. “This pilot project shows the power of shared vision and perseverance. Having successfully tested the world’s first air-powered shading system, we have unlocked the future for nature-based building solutions and are excited to continue working with Masdar City.”

ARUP, a leading engineering company, and Metadecor, a specialist façade manufacturer, also collaborated with Masdar City and Airshade Technologies on the pilot.

The Airshade system is just one of many climate tech projects being piloted at Masdar City, including the city’s first smart vertical indoor farm, which recently launched in partnership with Alesca Technologies.