Naturally cool: why passive shading and ventilation will change the future of facades
The need to minimise energy consumption affects many aspects of architecture, and designs that employ traditional or cutting-edge shading devices and ventilation methods are at the forefront of reducing our reliance on air conditioning. Architonic examines some ecologically innovative projects.
55 per cent of the facade is solid, with the aluminium lenses surrounding windows with 46 per cent visual light transmission
Windows perform many important roles in a building’s design; allowing light to enter while keeping bad weather out, insulating the interior while allowing views of the surroundings. However, the trend of the past two decades for covering entire buildings in glazing has negative environmental implications that have provoked a reaction from the architectural community. Rather than crystal towers that trap heat and rely on mechanical cooling, architects are designing structures that employ passive methods of shading and ventilation to control a building’s interior environment.
During 30 years at London studio Foster + Partners, British architect Ken Shuttleworth worked on many all-glass buildings, including London’s City Hall and 30 St Mary Axe. In a recent interview on BBC Radio 4 he said that this approach has lost its relevance and called for more responsible alternatives. “To meet the new building regulations, to meet zero carbon by 2019, we have to reduce the amount of windows in buildings, or the glass industry has to come up with new products,” Shuttleworth suggested.
A slatted wooden surface enveloping the library at the Guyanese University Campus by rh+ architecture protects the building from the sun’s harshest rays
The space between the library’s facade and the screen is used as a shaded walkway
One of the projects that Make, the studio that Shuttleworth founded in 2004, recently completed demonstrates a more environmentally aware approach to facade design. The surface of the Wanda Reign Hotel in Wuhan, China, comprises 902 hexagonal aluminium modules that lean forward and are angled in section to protect the rooms from solar gain. Approximately 55 per cent of the facade is solid, while the reflective aluminium panels surround glazing with low visual-light transmission and panes that can open to provide natural ventilation. The innovative arrangement of surfaces results in a textured pattern that changes when viewed from different angles and is emphasised by integrated LED lighting.