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Case Study: Identifying Innovative Passive Design Strategies







National Library, Singapore
- 1.1 Brief Introduction
- 1.2 Purpose of Study
- 1.3 Location of Site
- 1.4 Awards & Accolades
- 1.5 Purpose of Singapores National Library
- 1.6 Orthographic Drawings


- 3.1 Thermal Data
- 3.2 Relationship Between Temperature & Humidity
- 3.3 Comfort Zone

- 4.1 Wind Data
- 4.2 Wind Studies
- 4.3 Rose Diagrams
- 4.4 Air Circulation
- 4.5 Natural Ventilation

- 5.1 Solar Data
- 5.2 Natural Lighting against Sun Path
- 5.3 Building Configuration against Sun Path

- 6.1 Psychrometric Data
- 6.2 Building Envelope
- 6.3 Passive Design Strategies
- 6.4 Identification & Analysis of 2 Passive Design Features
- 6.4.1 Light Shelves
- 6.4.2 Thermal Chimney

7.0 Active Design Strategies

8.0 Conclusion

9.0 References
1.0 Introduction

1.1 Brief Introduction
The National Library of Singapore was designed by T.R. Hamzah & Ken Yeang Sdn. Bhd. which consists of
two 16 storey blocks and three basements. There are several libraries which named the Central Public
Library in Basement 1 and the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library from Levels 7 to 13. Besides, the library
is equipped with facilities such as the Drama Centre located at Levels 2 to 5, which is managed by
the National Arts Council. There is also a closed viewing point called The Pod located on 16
floor. It is
a venue built especially for functions and events. As a green design feature, there are some gardens full
of greenery planted around the building. The public are allowed to access the Sky-Park on Level 5 and
the Retreat on Level 10 which offers a great panoramic view to the city. There is also a big space called
the Plaza beside the lobby that functions as exhibition space.

As one of the iconic building in Singapore, National Library of Singapore is being environmentally-
responsive designed as an ecological approach adapted to the use of energy and materials. Due to its
remarkable green design, the building won the 1
prize in the ASEAN Energy Efficient Building Awards in
the New and Existing Buildings Category. Besides, it was awarded the Green Mark Platinum Award in the
Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA), the top honor bestowed on green buildings.

The building has innovatively employed bioclimatic techniques to prototype the environmentally
responsive tropical design. Bioclimatic techniques employed include climatically-responsive building
orientation and built form configuration, responsive facade design, appropriate building color, passive
low-energy systems, passive lighting concepts and the extensive use of landscaping. These techniques
have become a collective strategy for energy efficiency.
Figure 1 & 2: Main Facade of National Library Singapore from North (Left) and North-East (Right)

1.2 Purpose of study
The purpose of study is to identify and define the principles of heat transfer in relation to building and
people. Throughout the process, we would be able to understand what is thermal comfort, the effect of
thermal comfort factors to a person in a space, and also to study about MS1525, UBBL, GBI, and Green
Mark Standards which encourage the design, construction, maintenance of new and existing buildings in
a manner that reduces the use of energy.

On the other hand, we would be able to identify the environmental conditions related to the site
conditions, climate and so on (Wind, Solar, Weather, etc.). Starting from the analysis of countrys
climate by using Ecotect. Followed by further analysis of the chosen building about their passive and
active design strategies.

The pictures below show the site context of the library, which interrelates part of the analysis of the
Figure 4: Birds Eye View from the Roof Garden of the Library
Figure 3: Site Context of National Library
1.3 Location of the site
The National Library building enjoys a commanding presence in the Bugis-Bras Basah district of
Singapore. Its location in the tropics and the unique requirements arising out of climatic conditions in
the tropics served as the criteria for design. That would means that the building would embrace the
Asian worldview of the environment and serve as an icon for the region and a library for Asian to
appreciate their diverse culture.

Situated on an 11,304 square metre site between Bugis Junction and and Bras Basah Complex at 100,
Victoria Street, the current building has replaced the old National Library at Stamford Road. Its location
is rather strategic for public access due to the nearby MRT station which are Bugis MRT Station and Bras
Basah MRT Station.
Figure 5: Site Context of National Library via Plan View
Figure 6: Location Map of National Library
1.4 Awards & Accolades
In recognition of its environmental friendliness, it was awarded the Green Mark Platinum Award in April
2005. This is the highest honour for green buildings in Singapore granted by the local Building and
Construction Authority (BCA). The building received re-certification of the Green Mark Platinum Award
under the Existing Buildings category in March 2009. The building also won first prize in ASEAN Energy
Efficiency Award and Singapore Silver Award in the Universal Design Award from BCA, for its wide
spaces, accessibility, clarity in way finding and accessibility.

As a result of its 'green' fame, National Library Building (NLB) has received many visitors from various
countries, including the United States, Thailand, Indonesia and India, to look at the 'green' features of
the National Library Building. These visitors have been impressed with the extent of planning and
implementation of the 'green' features in the building while ensuring good indoor air quality. We also
have visitors, including students and academics, from local and overseas educational institutions,
interested in the 'green' aspects of the building.

1.5 Purpose of National Library Singapore
National Library Singapore was built to develop an adaptive public library system that would bring
library and information services closer to the community. It creates a network of borderless libraries to
enable the access to information and resources from anywhere and anytime. It provides quality service
through market orientation where a wide range of service will be introduced. National Library Singapore
also build symbiotic linkages with business communities and other community group in society.

Figure 7: Lobby as a public information inquiry centre
1.6 Orthographic Drawings


2.0 Climate Data

Diurnal Average Temperature
1 Jan to 31 Dec
Diurnal temperature is the
difference between the daily
maximum and minimum

Dry Bulb Temperatures
1 Jan to 31 Dec
They Dry Bulb Temperature refers
basically to the ambient air
temperature. Its measured by a
thermometer which is not affected
by the moisture of the air.

Table 1: Monthly Diurnal
Average Singapore
Table 2: Monthly Dry Bulb
Temperature Singapore
Wet Bulb Temperatures
1 Jan to 31 Dec
The wet bulb temperature is the
temperature indicated by a
moistened thermometer bulb
exposed to the air flow. It will
always be lower than dry bulb
temperature but will be identical
with 100% relative humidity.

Direct Radiation
1 Jan to 31 Dec
Direct radiation data is used for
the calculation of
evapotranspiration, which is a
function solar energy, wind and

Relative Humidity
1 Jan to 31 Dec
Relative humidity is the ratio of
the current absolute humidity to
the highest possible absolute
humidity, to see how much air is
saturating with water vapor,
which is to check the possibility of
Table 3: Monthly Wet Bulb
Temperature Singapore
Table 4: Direct Solar
Radiation Singapore
Table 5: Monthly Relative
Humidity Singapore
3.0 Thermal Analysis

3.1 Thermal Data
External Temperature
Internal Temperature
The temperature of the buildings site during day sits about 35C and 29C during night. Factors such
as climate affect the temperature of the library. Various considerations were placed into regulating the
temperature on both the interior and exterior of the building. The interior walls have a temperature of
28C for exposed areas and 24C for unexposed areas.

Due to the designing of landscape, by inserting greeneries in between few floors, allowing the local
vegetation shades to reduce the heat and effectively lowers wall surface temperature by 17C.
Evapotranspiration cooling is also adapted in the building, lowering air condition cost by 25%-80%.

Figure 8: Greeneries in Various Floors of the Building Help with Evapotranspiration Cooling
Table 6: Monthly Diurnal Averages of External and Internal Temperature
3.2 Relationship between temperature and humidity

Relative Humidity

Table 7: Relative Humidity of Singapore
The relative humidity typically ranges from 62% to 98% over the country of the year. 62% consider as
mildly humid while 98% consider as very humid. From the graph we obtained above, it can be seen that
February would be the driest month, whereas November would be the most humid month for Singapore.
But the graph above shows only the average daily high and low relative humidity (blue and brown), its
more likely to be within both graph, where the percentile bands are.
Table 9: Humidity of Singapore 22
April 2014

The graphs above show the temperature and the humidity of Singapore on the day we visited, 22
April 2014.
Table 8: Temperature of Singapore 22
April 2014
Table 10: Temperature Against Humidity 22
April 2014

Indoor temperature is lower while outdoor temperature is higher during the lunch hour. Indoor air is
cooler because human activity is lesser. The building loses the heat easily as the entrance of the
building helps air ventilation from outside to inside. Besides, roof garden also has the cooling effect
function. Water vapour of the plants evaporates to the air and enters through fenestration of the
building. However, outdoor will become warmer as human activit1y increases. The building is facing the
main road especially at peak hour, more vehicles are passing through and releasing gases like mono-
carbon oxide and carbon dioxide which will increase temperature.

Indoor relative humidity is lower because the building facade prevents water vapour to enter the
building. The humidity of air comes from the plants of the roof garden and fenestration of the building
which is the entrance of the building. Outdoor relative humidity is higher. Plants are surrounded
around the building facade, which tends to produce more oxygen outside. The difference between
indoor and outdoor may not have huge difference as mono-carbon oxide and carbon dioxide would
affect the overall outdoor relative humidity.

Temperature and relative humidity are interrelated. For example, when temperature is high, relative
humidity is low. Indoor air is cooler as all of the openings (entrance) are usually closed during the lunch
hour due to less human activity. Hot air inside will rise and escape to exterior. Low humidity level is due
to the poor air ventilation (limited fenestration). The analysis causes a change from the typical theory of
relationship between temperature and relative humidity. Therefore, occupants feel most comfortable
in the morning with lower temperature and higher relative humidity.
3.3 Comfort zone

8.00 AM 1.00 PM

5.00 PM 11.00 PM
Intensity of Use
Diagram 1: Intensity of Use in the National Library in Relation to Time

A basis of human comfort zone requires the temperature to range about 24C. Weather, humidity,
pressure and number of occupants in a space affect the thermal factor of the building.

Analysis shows that the peak hours in the library are around 9am and 5pm, where the spaces in the
library are packed. However, between 12 and 2pm, the chart shows that the number of occupants
decreases. Number of occupants in exterior reading spaces viewing pod reduced whereas more people
occupy the middle floors, bar and cafe. This shows that the comfort level changes in sync with the
temperature; an increase of temperature results in the decrease of comfort level. The comfort zones
alternate in between the building along the time lapse of a day.

Diagram 2: Thermal Analysis of the Library Spaces

The comfort zone will be alternative along with time. The drawing above shows an example of our own
analysis for a certain level of the building. The colours represent the warmness of the zone, which has a
direct relation with comfort zonings. The red zones are along the building as there are warmer along
the building, because the building is mostly built up by glasses, allowing the sunlight to penetrate
directly together with some heat (some heat were reflected and absorbed by the glass). This is the main
reason why the comfort zones alternate during different hours.
Factors affecting thermal comfort can be categorized into two main categories, which is environmental
factors and personal factors.

The above diagram shows the environmental factors, which are air temperature, radiant temperature,
air velocity and humidity. A good passive design building will take it considerations of all which is the
reason why its essential to collect the data during design stage. Specifications of design strategies of the
building we study have been written at next chapter.

The another category is personal factors (human factors), which are clothing insulation and metabolic
heat. These variables are dependent on the users, which cannot control by the building. For example,
some clothes are thicker which have more insulation, or, some users ran across the street under the hot
sun and sweat. The clothing insulation can still be control if the building specifics users to wear proper
clothing (e.g. Long pants) , but the building we are studying is not required to.
4.0 Wind Analysis

4.1 Wind Data
Wind Directions over the Entire Year

Table 11: Wind direction over a year in Singapore

The chart above shows the wind directions over the entire year. From the chart, we can see that the
wind is most often out of the north, followed by south. The wind is least often out of the east.

Speed of Wind

Table 12: Wind Speed over a year in Singapore
The typical wind speeds in tropical climate varies from 0mph to 14mph. The green graph represents
average daily maximum wind speed, red represents average daily minimum wind speed, and the black
represents the average wind speed.

These data is a must to take in consideration while designing the building, especially high rise building
like the National Library. The reason is because the glasses constructed with the building must be able to
bear with the strength of the wind (considering the highest speed of the wind).

4.2 Wind Studies

Diagram 3: Wind rose-diagram of the crucial months

Through the rose diagrams above, we analyze that approximately 60% of the wind comes from North-
East, 25% comes from South and 15% comes from North-West.
December December
4.3 Rose Diagrams

Diagram 4: Wind rose-diagram of national library on site
The wind rose-diagram placed on top of the site plan. The locations of core and spatial organization of
this building was planned/designed by considering the prevailing winds, for example, the roof gardens
floor, 5
floor and 10
floor) were placed at NNE because the result shows stronger wind would
have prevailed from that direction.
Figure 9: Roof gardens at different level in the library.

Diagram 5: Prevailing Wind Rose-Diagram
The rose diagram above shows the data of prevailing wind throughout the entire year. We obtain many
details as we further our research specifically on our sites.
Table 13: Wind Velocity 22
April 2014
The diagram above shows the velocity of speed on the day we visited.

The north-east wind generates the lowest velocity in the under belly at 0.5 m/s, while south-east wind
generates the highest velocity in the under belly at 2.3 m/s. The ambient wind speed of National Library
is 3.6 m/s.

The air velocity under the belly of the building will not exceed 2.3 m/s. Where by the annual average
wind speed of the plaza is -0.814 m/s.
4.4 Air Circulation

Internal Design Condition

Maximum Air Movement Maximum Dry Bulb
Maximum Relative Humidity
25 m/min 27C 75C

Plan of the building
Diagram 6: Air circulation Within the National Library
The diagram above shows the air circulation of the Singapore National Library. Air circulation in the
building moves where wind from the outside enters one end of the street space in the building and
leaves from the other end. The same circulation occurs in the void at the top of the building. Vertical air
circulation also occurs in the atrium where the skylight is placed higher than the roof with openings for
warm air to escape and cool air to descend on to the floor level.
4.5 Natural Ventilation
Section of the building
Diagram 7: Natural Ventilation within the Library

The building uses both stack ventilation and cross ventilation.

- Stack ventilation: This ventilation mostly occurs in large tall spaces, it functions well to extract warm
air from a space and replacing it with cool air. Stack ventilation is shown in the library buildings atrium.
The over 16 storey atrium perpendicular to the tunnel-like street space below allows for warm air to
rise and cool air to descend.

- Cross ventilation: The pressure caused by wind against a large wide obstacle results in air being
forced into any small openings found on the surface of the obstacle. The air rush enters the space and
bounces off other surfaces to find another opening to leave the space. This is shown in the national
library as well, in the void on the upper floor and the tunnel on street level.

Air circulation in the atrium assist interior air ventilation and minimizes active cooling and energy
consumption. The plaza located at the ground level with widely open space ensures smooth air flow and
attracts cool wind into the space. Natural ventilation is applied in the main transition spaces; such
include internal walkways, event plaza and courtyards. Gardens are placed facing towards the
strongest wind direction in order to control the wind speed that enters the building.

Figure 10: Event plaza and walkway that maximize cooling effect into the space.
5.0 Solar Analysis

5.1 Solar Data

April 2014 8.00 A.M.

The shadow is long because the sun has
just risen up, the facade of the building
is shooting by the solar rays as the angle
of sun is at low angle.
April 2014 10.00 A.M.

The whole facade of the building is still
being shined by the run, while the other
side of the building is shaded by the
front facade and the overhang. But the
side fins and vegetations help a lot by
providing shades.
22nd April 2014 10.00 A.M.

The whole facade of the building is still
being shined by the run, while the other
side of the building is shaded by the
front facade and the overhang. But the
side fins and vegetations help a lot by
providing shades.
22nd April 2014 12.00 P.M.

During this hottest hour, as the sun is at
its most high up spot, its supposed to
be the hottest and brightness hour, but
overhang and side fins help to protect
the building by shading, yet allowing
some of the daylighting to penetrate
into some open air area and the middle
April 2014 2.00 P.M.

The shades go the opposite way from
earlier, the other side of the building is
absorbing much heat and more light by
now. From the way the diagram
translate through shadow, the overhang
on the roof seem to provide shades to
the whole building already, but as
theres skylight in the middle on top, the
sunlight will still penetrate through it,
enable the users to enjoy sunlight
April 2014 4.00 P.M.

As the solar rays shoot towards the
building, there are lights which shine at
the vegetation, and the horizontal
louvers enable partial sunlight to access
instead of blocking them with solid
overhangs. And so, users can be reading
books much more comfortably in open
area with the greeneries around them,
as well as the comfortable sunlight.
5.1 Natural Lighting against Sun Path

Table 14: Energy Consumed by Artificial Lightings in Separate Rooms
Diagram 8: Light Diffuses through the Skylight

The library was quoted designed for the tropics, as design considerations maximizes the usage of
natural elements in a tropical surrounding such as sunlight, rain, temperature, etcetera. Solar heat and
light were fully utilized in regulating the building temperature and lightings.

Natural lighting is an important element for a public building like the National Library, as most of the
readers will be much satisfied reading under natural lighting.

When sunlight enters the space through a window or skylight, it brings not only light energy (whether
direct or indirect, but preferably indirect light in libraries), but also heat energy. This solar heat gain
from daylight can be a burden on the building cooling system, and sunlight must be carefully controlled
to avoid this.

General Library 150 W/sqm
Archival (book stacks) 10 W/sqm
NLB HQ (offices) 20W/sqm
Skylight is a very useful daylighting roof aperture which brings in the natural lighting while reflecting the
sun heat. Its built to be small in proportion to the surface area of building, due to the consideration of
the heat content of direct sunlight.

The skylight with deep adjacent diffusing surfaces is a simple technique of protecting from direct
sunlight while providing non-directional, comfortable light to the space below. A 2:1 ratio of depth to
width normally provides enough diffusing reflections for glare-free light.

Figure 11: Skylights in the building from different perspectives.
5.3 Building Configuration against Sun Path

Diagram 9: Building Configuration
Sunlight was found to be the most enjoyable light for reading, throughout the research. Sunlight plays a
major role in green design, as it can be used to reduce the reliance on artificial lighting.

Various configurations to the librarys space result in higher energy efficiency, such configurations

- Central Lending Library

The Bamboo Garden and Discovery Garden (stage for storytelling) provide sense of comfort and
harmony, at the same time cool the library from the outside in, by creating a natural air-shield
protecting users from solar heat.

- Building Facade

Modular sunshades were fabricated and coordinated with the glass curtain wall system, adapting a 30
solar cutoff, thus preventing direct sunlight. World largest sunshades of 1.8m installed from the surface
of the glass buffers solar radiation and glare yet maximize daylight to enter the structure. In order to
support the sunshades, the curtain wall mullion has to extend to 5.4m high and 250mm deep. In result,
this has shaded up to 2.4m wide, with a 1.2 m shade inside the building. Automated drop-down blinds
are activated when the sun is too low for the shades to be effective.

Proper planning of design spaces in a building is important to ensure thermal efficiency. Temperature
has the tendency to tamper with the ventilation of a space. Different organization of parts in a building
function to allow wind of optimum temperature to enter and at the same time insulates the building.

- Core orientation

The positioning of the buildings service core and lift cores serve to block direct radiation and
conduction of heat into the main building. Theses spaces are wide and hollow, using the volume of air
within to act as insulation of the certain face of the building.

Figure 12: Laneway Sunshades

Innovative laneway sunshades between two blocks create aesthetic lightness on the curtain wall, and
direct the flow of natural breezes into the plaza. These sunshades protect the north-western and south-
eastern facades from solar penetration. Roof canopy and louvers complete the shading system of the

Diagram 10: Sectional Diagram of Sunshades

Figure 13: Skylight above the atrium space
- Spaces

The building takes the form of two blocks instead of one single compact block in order for more internal
transition spaces. The library blocks optimize the use of daylighting, where natural lighting supplements
artificial light at promenades and offices spaces. The skylight situated above the atrium allows more
light to enter and penetrate every storey in the building.
6.0 Design Concept & Passive Design Strategies

6.1 Psychrometric Chart

Table 15: Psychrometric Chart

Psychrometric charts are graphic representations of the psychrometric properties of air. Its very helpful
in troubleshooting greenhouse buildings environmental problems, and simply enough to determine
simple solutions. Understanding the psychrometric charts helps on visualizing the characteristics of
moist air, which is helpful in passive designing.

The psychrometric chart is important information for passive design strategy. Therere 6 main strategy
modes for passive design techniques, which are:

- Passive Solar Heating
- Thermal Mass Effect
- Exposed Mass + Night-Purge Ventilation
- Natural Ventilation
- Direct Evaporative Cooling
- Indirect Evaporative Cooling

The chart also shows the comfort zone (Yellow), where the natural weather (Dotted Blue) is above the
comfort zone, therefore, other than passive design strategies, active design strategies are used to make
the users of the building to be able to stay in the comfort zone at all times. As you can see, therere
actually 6 main passive design strategies.
6.2 Building Envelope

Figure 14: Elevation &Section View of National Library Building

The National Library of Singapore complies with the high standards of ETTV. With its interesting material
selections and innovative engineering feat, the library is one of the most energy efficient buildings in
Singapore until today. The buildings envelope is mainly built of 80% glazed windows. Double glazing
glass prevents energy transfer from solar radiation and ambient temperature, reduces air conditioning
needs and achieves thermal comfort. The ETTV is 32.1 W/m2 and the U-value for the glass is 1.62 W/m2
k. On top of that, 19mm monolithic thick glass curtain walls are also being used as it helps reduce

The Singapore National Library used green materials and specification of materials used in the designed
system to reduce the impacts of use on the natural environment. The selected materials on specification
were carpet wall fabrics and sustainable-forested local timber. Other than reducing environmental
impacts, these buildings also brings out great effect for the passive design strategies, as the layer is
glazed on white, the heat energy from the direct sun wont conduct easily with the wall of the building,
therefore theres still significant temperatures differences on the internal and the external wall.

The diagram above shows our own analysis about the material. Double glazed windows are windows
that have two glass panels in the same frame, separated by a small space that is filled with either air or a
nontoxic gas such as argon. The two glass panels should be separated by a space that is twenty
millimeters for maximum efficiency. Heat wont escape easily with double glazed windows and drought
will be reduced, making the overall temperature in the house more comfortable. Double glazed
windows improve sound insulation by creating a barrier between the inside room and the environment
outside. The airtight construction of double glazed windows creates thermal insulation. This reduces
the flow of incoming and outgoing heat. Less energy is used to heat up or cool down the space, resulting
in lower energy bills.
Figure 15: Double glazed windows are used for the building facade.
Diagram 11: Heat Movement through Double Glazed Glass
6.3 Passive Design Strategies
Passive design strategies are the strategies while designing a building, which results on a building that
simply works on its own. The plan, section, selection of materials and siting create a positive energy flow
through the building and save energy. Through Singapore follows the LEED green marking, but we
believe the factors which influenced passive design strategies are the same with MS1525, therefore the
below factors have been analyzed and written through referencing both LEED and MS1525.

The architectural consideration in designing this building is strongly influenced by its responsiveness to
the immediate environment. As for the National Library of Singapore, the factors which were considered
in the design are:

A) Building Orientation
As a tall building exposed to the full impact of external temperature and radiant heat, the National
Library of Singapore is orientated towards the North-East direction which is away from the East-West
sun. Besides, the cuboidal building has four corners which each points towards north, south, east and
west, thus the main surface area of the facade receives less heat and glare.

The buildings service core located at on the South-West and North-West sides of the building serve as
buffer zones to insulate the internal area. This is where the main library floors are located; the glass
curtain walls are screened to provide shade and at the same time allow sufficient light to enter.

The lift core located on the North-East facade also acts as a heat shield against the afternoon sun. The
adjacent block is also effective in preventing heat conduction and radiation.

The West face of the building has the most sun-shading features as an additional shield against solar
heat gain and glare. Low-emissive double-glazed glass panel facade and large overhangs on the external
facade are the sun-shading features used. With these, the building is able to minimize glare from the
rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the evening while still manages to harvest maximum
natural sunlight into the building.

B) Building Configuration (Geometry & Layout)
The Singapore National Library possesses a fairly unique yet interesting geometry and layout. From
aerial view, the building configuration forms a letter K. The layout is configured in such a way as it
symbolizes Knowledge. But aside from symbolism, this unique geometry helps to redirect sun rays
and keep the building cool. With such form factor, it also helps prevent heat island effect. The
configurations of the service area are located on the South-West and North-West sides of the building,
serving as buffer zones to insulate the internal areas.

C) Ventilation
The National Library of Singapore features an open Plaza area at the first storey admits natural
ventilation and daylighting. Stack effect at the open Plaza happens when the air from the sides of the
building is drawn upward between the link bridges and in-between the two blocks. Cross ventilation is
also found in the building. The pressure caused by wind against a large wide obstacle results in air being
forced into any small openings found on the surface of the obstacle. The air rush enters the space and
bounces off other surfaces to find another opening to leave the space. This is shown in the national
library as well, in the void on the upper floor and the tunnel on street level.

D) Floor to Ceiling Height
Different floor to ceiling height is being used throughout the library based on the function of space. For
instance, the study area has got a total 5.4m floor to ceiling height. This enables visitors to study in a
comfortable and spacious area. Besides it ensures visitors to be in thermal comfort as it allows ample air
flow even during peak hours with a huge crowd in the library.

E) Location of Cores
As a national library, the buildings cores are the study areas. The building circulation is characterized by
simplicity. The buildings comprehensible design allows ease of navigation and convenience in daily use.
Core elements on the typical floor consist of lifts and lift lobbies, stairs, toilets, M&E spaces and shafts.
In the National Library of Singapore, all study areas were placed away from the main facade of the
building, instead the study areas were placed along the skylight area to ensure study areas always
remain within thermal comfort yet still receiving the necessary light source from natural sunlight. And
the core structures that is supporting the building are steel frames and columns located all over the
exterior of the building.

F) Building Facade
The facade of the Singapore National Library is one of the most interesting parts of the building. The
facade is 80% made out of glass and finished with modular sunshades fabricated and coordinated with
curtain wall system as well as internal partitions. The glass is double-gazing glass, therefore allowing
ample natural light to penetrate while deflecting unwanted heat rays. And the facade also features a
100m high atrium which functions as a thermal stage over the internal streets, forming a naturally
ventilated transition space which cools visitors before they enter the building.

G) Internal Layout
The internal layout of the library is fairly interesting too. Most of the spaces were placed near the
windows, especially the study compounds. This method of layout is to minimize active lightings in the
building and fully utilize the light source harvested from the skylight and massive glass facade.

H) Fenestrations
The openings of the National Library of Singapore can be found all around the building. But to be a little
more specific, a majority of huge double-glazed glass panels were placed facing the North-East direction.
This is to harvest more natural light from the morning as the sun rises.

I) Building Materials
The library is mainly built up of glass, steels and polypropylene. White polypropylene shelves reflect and
redirect sunlight to maintain thermal comfort in the building. Double-glazing glass windows allows
maximum light source to penetrate but still blocking out heat. Steels serve as reinforcements for the
entire building.

J) Roof Design & Color
The National Library of Singapore provides several roof gardens in order to block heavy wind from the
North-East and also cut down on direct sunlight penetration. Besides, it also serves as an environmental
friendly shading to the interior. Other than gardens, the roof features 3 massive skylights to lighten up
the center of the building. This helps to cut down in artificial lightings.

K) Landscaping & Shading

A distinctive feature of the National Library Building is the practice of bioclimatic features, where the
structure maintains a certain amount of connection with nature. The National Library Building also
comprise of several horizontal and vertical landscaping, in the form of gardens, terraces and sky

The presence of greeneries in the 16 storeys built form induces harmony between the rigid qualities of
manmade structure with natural elements and mini ecosystems. These landscaping covers 8,000 sqm of
the gross floor area of 58,783 sqm, successfully reduces the artificiality of the structure. Landscaping for
bioclimatic use being a distinguish feature of the library, it
has encourage the public to follow suit to reduce urban
heat island and energy consumption.

The sky gardens and terraces are strategically placed on
balconies to serve as effective heat shield, acoustics as
well as to reduce glare. The local vegetation shades heat
absorbing surfaces and effectively lowers wall surface
temperature by 17C. Evapotranspiration cooling is also
adapted in the building, lowering air condition cost by

The library is situated in a fairly extensive landscape. With
sky terraces and roof gardens fully utilized, local ambient
temperature is lowered. The library features numerous
light shelves and louvers. Light shelves shade the building
with the self-shading technique and shelves that extend
into the library space reflect sunlight further into the
building. This optimizes daylight and thus reduces the use
of artificial lighting. The louvers shades the plants in the
garden and it also act as a wind buffer to slow down
heavy wind.

6.4 Identification & Analysis of 2 Passive Design Features

By researching and analysing the library, we have identified numerous passive designs (as stated in 6.3
Passive Design Strategies, page32). But to highlight and have a more in-depth analysis on 2 specific
passive design features, we have narrowed them down to the 2 most innovative and prominent
features from the National Library itself. One of which is the light shelves which are probably the most
noticable feature, redirecting and deflecting amper natural sunlight into the interior of the building. The
other one was the thermal chimney that is located in the centre of the building (the plaza). It naturally
activates the stack ventilation effect and provide smooth air flow in the plaza.

Selected Feature 1: Light Shelves Selected Feature 2: Thermal Chimney
6.4.1 Passive Design Feature - Light Shelves

The National Library of Singapore has many passive design strategies implemented into the building, but
one of the most prominent ones is definitely its light shelves that could be easily identified at first glance.

Figure 16: Light Shelves Seen from within the Library
Definition of Light Shelves:
A light shelf is a passive lighting strategy where a horizontal or angled or even slightly curved surface is
placed over building openings higher than eye level to reflect daylight into the ceiling thus bringing light
further into buildings. Light shelves have been featured in many buildings all around the world in many
variants in term of surface material, size, angles of placement and adjustability. Some light shelves are
non-adjustable fixtures while some are adjustable (usually automated) to create different angles of the
reflecting surface to maximize the amount of daylight that enter the building throughout the day
depending on the sun position. Light shelves can work on their own, but they are often paired by
external shading device that is placed at the same level of the internal shelves. The external shading
reduces glares from the windows.

Reason of choice:
The design team did not resort to the usage of light shelves blindly. Light shelves were carefully chosen
as one of its main green passive feature because the design team had to address a huge challenge which
is to shade the building yet maximizing natural sunlight.

To reduce solar heat gain through the facade, the building had to be heavily shaded. A 30 solar cutoff
(over hang) was adopted. When the sun is 30 and more above the horizon, no direct sunlight should be
visible in the building.

While almost no direct sunlight should enter the building between 10am to 4pm, the facade design had
to allow for the penetration of as much sunlight as possible to minimize the use of artificial lighting.

As a solution, the team designed some of the worlds largest sunshades on a curtain wall, accomplishing
a facade engineering feat. These sunshades (light shelves) project up to 1.8m from the surface of the
glass. Installed around the entire building perimeter, these sunshades effectively control solar radiation
and glare yet maximize daylight.
Diagram 12: Section of Light Shelves

- They proved to increase the amount of daylight that enters the building thus increasing visual comfort.

- They are relatively easy to install and sold as prefabricated units with own light weight support or
bracketing system.

- Made of composite aluminum, the light shelves are light and easy to handle.

- Different variety of surface options from Matt, perforated or even corrugated. The different texture
gives a different level of total reflectance of the sunlight and also light diffusion intensity. The surface
comes in different paint finishing too.
Diagram13: Comparison of Daylight Entering the Building With and Without Light Shelves

- In the tropical context, the biggest concern about using light shelves is the obtained heat gain. There
seem to be some conflicting opinions whether to use or not to use light shelves in tropical buildings. A
light shelves assessment study for hot and tropical climate done by Irving Montanar Franco, Phd shows
that in comparison with standard horizontal shading devices, using light shelves do increase heat gain.
Using light shelves however do not consider to be resulting in over-heating. Franco pointed that in
comparison with non-shaded glaze facade, the heat gain obtained from using the light shelves is lower.

- Light shelves do not perform well during cloudy days. Simulation study by a group of academics from
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and Loughborough University in UK shows
that light shelves reduce overall indoor illumination when sky is overcast.

Figure 17: Light Shelves and Louvers Controlling Amount of Lighting Within the Building
Additional Features:

The light shelves installed in the National Library of Singapore features louvers. These louvers serve 2
important features to the building, wind and vegetation.

Diagram 14: Louvers on the Light Shelves
Firstly, it helps to buffer the wind speed. Being the tallest building around Bugis area, the library is likely
to face the strongest wind. With these louvers, the building is able to optimize the flow of wind and
natural ventilation within the building. As the vegetation are planted on the balconies at high levels, the
wind would have destroyed the plants without the louvers acting as buffers.

Diagram 15: Process of Wind Buffering Figure 18: Louvered Light Shelves at the Plaza
Secondly, these louvers serve as a balance between shading and penetration of sunlight for the
vegetation around the library. The sky gardens and terraces with their vegetation on the balconies rely
heavily on the light shelves as it requires the necessary sunlight yet in need of the shading it provides to
grow healthy.
6.4.2 Passive Design Feature - Thermal Chimney

Situated in the city, it is expected that the thermal conditions are likely to be hot and stuffy. For the
design of the library, the application of natural ventilation is heavily emphasized. Natural ventilation is
able to move the air, whether to bring in fresh air or to remove stale air without the usage of any

Figure 19: The Atrium in the Library Functions as a Thermal Chimney

Natural ventilation mainly relies on pressure to move the air particles. When correctly applied, it
functions well to give sufficient ventilation continuously without the need of any supervision. A unique
feature of the National Library Building is the usage of a thermal chimney to induce thorough ventilation
throughout the entire building.

The decision to include a thermal chimney in the form of a 100m tall atrium topped with a skylight
functions not only as a space for even air flow, but also as a path for light to enter. Much precaution
has been placed for ventilating openings of the building. It was done orientating the horizontal
openings away from the main streets to prevent polluted air from entering the building. At the same
time, these openings that link to the atrium were averted away from East and West to keep hot wind
from getting into the building.


Figure 20: Atrium Viewed from Ground Level

The atrium is the heart of the building and travels a vertical distance of over 16 storeys with openings on
both ends. This gives ample space for air buoyancy to take place because the longer the vertical
distance the more it allows a more even separation of cold air and warm air. The main function of the
atrium is to flush out warm air in the building and bring cool air into the space of the building.

Figure 21: Inside View of the Atrium

The principle of the thermal chimney uses air convection for stack ventilation. It moves the air using
buoyancy where air of a higher temperature and higher pressure moves towards an area of lower
temperature and pressure. Warm air rises and cool air sinks in the atrium, thus the warm and stuffy air
is flushed out from the upper openings whereas cold air is drawn downwards and accumulates at the
plaza. Visitors are cooled down before they enter the library from the plaza.

Diagram 16: Stack Ventilation Occurs In the Thermal Chimney

This order ensures that the building is constantly ventilated by the means of its structure. This is a green
and cost efficient way of ventilation that the library had exploited to good use. Furthermore, stack
ventilation as a form of natural ventilation has the ability to function without the presence of wind.
The constant presence of temperature and pressure is sufficient to conduct the ventilation. The thermal
chimney also becomes a visual linkage of the floors in the building, thus enhances the spatial experience
in the library.

Figure 22: Openings Linking the Exterior to the Thermal Chimney

On the contrary, it is possible that the usage of natural ventilation with openings that lead outside the
building lowers the acoustic factor of the building. The library does have a substitution to this flaw which
is by adding vegetation throughout the building to enhance noise absorption. Wide openings also prove
to be harder for the control of air compounds as polluted air has a higher probability to enter the

Additional Features:

Additional feature of the thermal chimney is how it includes wind driven ventilation in its system. Also
known as cross ventilation, wind driven ventilation creates pressure in its presence against an obstacle.
The wind then forces its way toward a region with opposing pressure and the process repeats
throughout the whole building.

In the National Library Building, the windward faade forms the obstacle where strong wind creates
pressure upon. On the other hand, the leeward regions experience lower pressure, this phenomenon
draws the wind towards it through the openings on the facades. The air rush enables strong wind to
constantly ventilate the space.

Diagram 17: Composition of Stack and Cross Ventilation

The conjoined spaces of the horizontal opening and the atrium create a fusion of stack and wind driven
ventilation. The constant convection of air in the atrium which is perpendicularly fused to the horizontal
spaces draws air in from the horizontal space, thus ventilation continues throughout the building
without interruption even if it lacks the presence of wind.

Evaporative cooling is a form of passive cooling for buildings. It requires the presence of cooling ponds,
spray mist or vegetation to cool the atmosphere. Generally speaking, water is the main element
concerned in this strategy.

Figure 23: Presence of Vegetation Enhances Evapotranspiration for Better Air Quality

The design that National Library Building want to incorporate was a bioclimatic one, as this proves to be
a greener way to balance out the manmade form. Bioclimatic design takes into consideration climatic
conditions and its effects on the occupants.

In efforts of creating a bioclimatic design, vast amount of vegetation was allocated throughout the
building. Vegetation was ideal in creating the right ambiance for aesthetic values as well as a natural
element to prevent the occurrence of heat islands. Fourteen lush tropical gardens can be found
throughout the entire building, consisting of carefully selected plants that are able to thrive in various
conditions provided in the building.

Apart from general functions such as shading and heat absorbent, the green landscape aids the
ventilation of the building by ensuring cool and quality air enters the building.

Landscape induces evaporative cooling through evapotranspiration, which is a combination of
evaporation and transpiration of plants. Transpiration is a natural process that occurs in plants in order
to keep them cool as well as to regulate water in the plant. In this process, water is evaporated out of
the plant into the atmosphere. This cools the surrounding air significantly as warm air is mixed with the
cool water particles.

Serving as a multifunctional element, landscaping however requires constant maintenance, which
involves the rooftop irrigation system and so on. Space and planters were also required for landscaping.

7.0 Active Design Strategies

As energy is considered by many to be the most important category becoming sustainable, which is why
its the heaviest weighted of all the categories in LEED rating system. Energy efficient designs in many
ways have direct linked to passive design principles and strategies. Therefore concept of Overall Thermal
Transfer Value (OTTV) is developed in design of building envelope to achieve energy efficiency.

The diagram above is the calculation method of OTTV. The concept is based on the assumption that the
envelope of a building is completely enclosed. It comprises of ETTV and RTTV. But as the Singapore
National Library is a high rise building, its less likely to have much RTTV.

Parameters which are affecting OTTV of a building are building design, climatic, and local. Building
design will be building orientation, envelope color and so on; climatic would have solar radiation, wind
speeds, humidity and the others; while as the local focuses in the indoor comfort conditions. Which is
the reason why differences of indoor and outdoor temperatures, the solar factor and the equivalent
temperature difference are important (the datas which we had to research on previously), cause all
these affects the value of OTTV in LEED system.

Therefore, active design strategies are strategies that use equipment to modify the state of the building,
create energy and comfort, for examples, fans, lights, pumps etc, which helps to improve the OTTV,
especially for the local parameters. The are the simulated devices which are used in the Singapore
National Library:

- Daylight sensors that are used together with automatic blinds at the building facades are found
throughout the building to maximize its energy efficiency by monitoring the amount of natural light
entering the building.

- Public toilets installed with motion sensors.

- Energy efficient lightings that are switched on only when required after closure of the library.

- Use of rain sensors as part of the automatic irrigation system for landscaped areas.

- Water efficient taps and cisterns are also used to conserve water.

- Night setback for air-conditioning system in the library spaces after library operation hours with
automated chiller controls.

- Energy monitoring via BMS (Building Management System).

- All escalator features motion sensors.

- Chiller which removes heat from a liquid via water vapour compression or absorption refrigeration
cycle. The liquid then can be circulated through a heat exchanger to cool air.

- Mechanical thermal controller.

- Localized intelligent switching for the office floor provide afterhours lighting only when required at the
occupied space.

- Variable volume and carbon monoxide sensors which maintaining acceptable conditions in all areas,
and also to minimize the cooling of unnecessary volumes of fresh air.

- Automatic blinds.
8.0 Conclusion

Upon receiving this task, we were psyched to be able to select the National Library of Singapore as our
site for project 1 of Building Science 1. We were especially enraptured to visit the library because it
holds the title of a platinum-graded building by the Green Mark Award and holds many innovative green
features within the building.

Our site visit took place as we visited Singapore somewhere around April. We contacted the librarian
before heading to the library while we were still in Malaysia, and apparently a book written solely for
the National Library was available in the library itself. Apart from the resourceful book we found on si te,
we made sure we visited the library both in the morning and the night in order to collect a more
accurate data analysis. By doing so, we managed to gather quite a number of useful info and photos for
the report and also admire the building in every angle. Many of the passive design features were
instantly identifiable by us too such as the enormous light shelves and strategically positioned gardens.
In short, we were glad to be able to work on a report for such an architecture glory, the National Library
of Singapore. Through completing this report, we learned not just the passive design strategies, but also
to analyse and land our opinions on improvements or alternatives. With proper guidance from our
tutors Mr Bruce Lee and Mr Prince, we also learned to compile our findings and analytical data

9.0 References
Charles J. Kibert (2012). Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery. New Jersey: John
Wiley & Sons.
Yoke Kiew (2008). Redifining The Library: The National Library of Singapore. Sinapore: GK Consultancy
Ptd Ltd.
Sara Hart (2011). EcoArchitecture the work of Ken Yeang. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
Jason P. (2013). The Skycourt and Skygarden: Greening the urban habitat. USA: Routledge.
Peter James R., Howard W. Dick (2009). The City in Southeast Asia: Patterns, Processes and Policy.
Singapore: NUS Press.
Peter H., Stephanus S. (2009). Constructing Identity in Contemporary Architecture: Case Studies from the
South. Berlin: LIT Verlag Mnster.
Peter D. (2009). Engineering for a Finite Planet: Sustainable Solutions. London: Buro Happold (Firm).
Redefining the library: the National Library of Singapore
Shahin Vassigh, Jason R. Chandler (2001). Building Systems Integration for Enhanced Environmental
Performance. USA: J. Ross Publishing
Yeang K., Lillian W. (2010). Dictionary of Ecodesign: An Illustrated Reference. USA: Routledge.
Yeang K. (1999). The Green Skyscaper: the basis for designing sustainable intensive buildings. The
University of Michigan: Prestel.

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