MIT’s Sheila Kennedy is changing the way we think about solar energy, designing panels that are flexible and mobile, like common household curtains. Moving away from the static, flat panels that we’re used to seeing, Kennedy’s “Soft House” (which she exhibited recently at the Vitra Design Museum in Essen, Germany) features energy-harvesting curtains that move in the direction of sunlight, generating more than half the daily power needs of an average American household (up to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity). Kennedy’s prototype reflects an innovative, sustainable approach to home design: “Surfaces that define space can also be producers of energy,” says Kennedy. “The boundaries between traditional walls and utilities are shifting.”

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