Sean Godsell is quite literally turning a negative into a positive at one of his old projects in Melbourne, the award winning architect will replace the faulty glass disks on the façade of his award-winning RMIT Design Hub in Swanston Street with new disks that incorporate photovoltaic solar cells.

More than 16,000 large glass disks on the Design Hub’s unique façade are being replaced following the discovery of broken disks at the building’s base. But the team at RMIT will work with Godsell to turn a negative into an environmental positive to make many of the replacement glass disks green energy generators by incorporating photovoltaic solar cells into large sections of the facade.

The disks are made of toughened safety glass designed to break into small pea-shaped granules.The addition of the new solar energy disks to the building is not expected to change its appearance. The facade is expected to eventually produce enough solar energy to run the entire building, as well as store power with on-site battery storage.

Godsell, who worked alongside Peddle Thorp Architects on the building, told The Age that the disk facade had been built to accommodate future adaptations, allowing it to be updated as solar technology improved.

Observing that the Design Hub had always been intended to be a beacon of ‘what is possible in design and sustainability’, RMIT pro vice-chancellor Paul Gough said the replacement of thousands of disks could now combine with innovations in photovoltaic solar cells and power storage.

The university said in a statement that the work would be completed by next February.

In detail: The RMIT Design Hub and its glass disk shading device