The Shadowless Towers

London Architects NBBJ has proposed a design for a shadowless tower by employing the use of computer algorithms in Rhinoceros. The use of smart design led to the creation of algorithms that can be replicated and adapted to fit any site. The design proposes the creation of two towers opposite but angled away from each other. The design has two towers of different heights with the taller tower capturing the sunlight and directing it onto the shorter tower which further directs it onto the green space between the two towers. The panes of glass on the two towers are curved individually creating multiple beams that deliver a soft, diffused light to avoid magnified lighting. This effectively cancels out the shadow in between the two towers and for a couple of hours in the day is bathed in natural light. The design proposes that the shorter buildings around the site are not constantly shadowed. The towers are mixed-use with residential uses at higher levels and increasingly active uses at the base of the towers. 

The Shadowless Towers by NBBJ - Sheet1
The Shadowless Towers by NBBJ - Sheet2
The Shadowless Towers by NBBJ - Sheet3

The Only Way is Up.

For thousands of years, man has been awed by the possibility of reaching for the heavens. High demand for land that is not readily available as it is a limited resource pushes us towards vertical living which comes with its share of challenges such as urban canyons, heat pods, GPS interruptions, and overshadowing. The conversation always revolves around upward conveyance, structural design, and energy performance and rarely about the effect on society and the environment around the tower. Conscious building design ensures that the needs of the client are met and the environment does not suffer under the exploitative commercial culture. 

The building of high-rise towers offers unobstructed city views at different levels. The higher the buildings rise the clearer the air becomes and maximize natural light into the building which offers solutions to sustainable building design. With the increased demand for land that is in low supply, high-rises offer a solution to urban congestion. 

Taller Buildings don’t have to mean darker streets.

The most effective way to solve the issue of darker streets has been through intentional policy-making. The New York Department of City Planning proposed flexibility in the design of building facades and modernize the rules that regulate building design. These rules allow for the creation of better-quality buildings without increasing the allowed density in the area. These facades can recede as they move upwards to ensure that the light rays are able to penetrate lower into the urban canyon keeping streets light and airy while allowing developers to maximize the available space. Many municipalities require shadow impact studies to quantify the impact of the proposed designs which places emphasis on the lack of sunlight rather than how the sunlight can be maximized. By changing the approach designs will consciously seek out natural sunlight and maintain its positive impact in and around the site. Many urban inhabitants lament the darkness that they are plunged into as a result of the building of these skyscrapers unregulated.

The price of brighter-lit buildings is that the land cannot be maximized but it will be considered a necessary evil to make sure that the experience of the inhabitants of the building is optimized. A consequence of these skyscrapers is the creation of the urban Canyon which is a place where the street is flanked by buildings on both sides. Urban canyons affect various local conditions, including temperature, wind, light, air quality, and radio reception, including satellite navigation signals. This can be regulated by incorporation of building green infrastructure improvements into regular street upgrades and capital improvement projects and also planting trees and other vegetation—Space in urban areas might be limited, but you can easily integrate small green infrastructure practices into grassy or barren areas, vacant lots, and street rights-of-way.

These canyons also modify the speed and direction of the winds. The resulting flow patterns will therefore be dependent on the street orientation reducing predictability, planning, and management. Within heavily trafficked streets set between continuous rows of high buildings within which there may be a buildup of high levels of traffic-generated air pollutants due to very restricted atmospheric dispersion. 

In conclusion, NBBJ’s proposal offers a sustainable solution to the issue of urban lighting. Considering the leap in technology the skyscrapers seem to have appeared online. Modification of existing facades guided by computer-aided algorithms that simulate the desired effects. The conscious design process encourages community responsible outcomes that are easily implemented. 


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  2. Admin. “High-Rise Buildings – Advantages & Benefits.” Wave City, Wave City, 13 July 2021,,homes%20in%20low%2Drise%20buildings. 
  3. Buckley, Cara. “In the Shadow of Rising Towers, Laments of Lost Sunlight in New York.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Dec. 2013, 
  4. “Do Taller Buildings Have to Mean Darker Streets?” Next City,
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  6. “How to Maximize Sunlight in a Skyscraper City.”, Bloomberg, 1 May 2017, 
  7. “Humanizing Skyscrapers: Rethinking Tall Buildings for Human Interaction.” NBBJ, 
  8. “The ‘No Shadow Tower’: How Tall Buildings Can Bring Daylight Back to the Public Realm.” NBBJ, 
  9. “Humanizing Skyscrapers: Rethinking Tall Buildings for Human Interaction.” NBBJ, 

An avid reader with an interest in social justice and architecture. Having grown up with an interest in art, she expressed herself through drawings and paintings and later architecture as an additional medium of expression. She believes architecture can aid is solving multiple social issues through careful planning and design.