Browse Publications Technical Papers 2007-01-3056

Natural and Environmentally Responsive Building Envelopes 2007-01-3056

In a context of global warming and our needs to reduce CO2 emissions, building envelopes will play an important role. A new imperative has been put forth to architects and engineers to develop innovative materials, components and systems, in order to make building envelopes adaptive and responsive to variable and extreme climate conditions. Envelopes serve multiple functions, from shielding the interior environment to collecting, storing and generating energy. Perhaps a more recent concern of terrestrial habitats is permeability and leakages within the building envelope. Such air tight and concealed envelopes with zero particle exchange are a necessity and already exist in regard to space capsules and habitats.
This paper attempts to acknowledge existing and visionary envelope concepts and their functioning in conjunction with maintaining a favourable interior environment. It introduces several criteria and requirements of advanced façades along with interior pressurization control. Furthermore, the paper also takes a closer look at the principles of ‘biomimicry’ of natural systems combined with the most up-to-date building materials and construction technologies, trying to integrate the notions of adaptation - where the capacity to survive depends on the ability to adjust to the environment - within the concept of technological evolution and innovation. An ‘adaptive’ attitude in the way in which we conceive our built structures provides a conceptual basis for the advanced building design of our future, as well as one concerned about the efficient management of the available resources. Built environments of the future (in extreme climates or not) will need to respond to Renewable, Adaptive, Recyclable and Environmental (R.A.R.E.) concepts in order to co-exist in a sustainable way with their surroundings.


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