You know how condominium complexes extract a monthly fee from residents? Usually, it goes to help cover the cost of maintaining common areas, such as replacing worn-out carpeting, decorating the lobby at Christmas, or keeping the sidewalks and parking lot snow-free in winter. Well, guess what the inhabitants of a 14-story tower in densely populated central Tokyo
will be getting for their money? Sunlight. That's right: sunlight. They learned to their dismay not long ago that another building almost as tall is to be built on the lot next door, mere feet away. Since it will block ol' Sol's rays for all but the unit owners on the top floors, and since - as one member of their association put it - "We are united in our desire for sunlight," they filed a grievance. Happily, a solution has been found. It's a system, developed by a consortium of engineering companies with government financing, that consists of a large lens on the roof that captures the rays and transmits them via fiber-optic cables throughout the building. Thus, each resident will receive a full ration of natural light, minus the ultraviolet. It's believed to be a first for an entire building, although the system has proved effective in some private homes and offices. No word on whether the monthly condo fee now will be going sky-high.