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Green Design and Sustainable Architecture

Krystyna Januszkiewnicz and Natalia Paszkowska

CLIMATE CHANGE ADOPTED BUILDING ENVELOPE FOR THE URBAN


ENVIRONMENT
A NEW APPROACH TO ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN

ISBN 978-619-7105-79-7 / ISSN 1314-2704, 2 - 5 November, 2016, Book 6 Vol. 3, pp. 515-522.
16th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2016

CLIMATE CHANGE ADOPTED BUILDING ENVELOPE FOR THE URBAN


ENVIRONMENT. A NEW APPROACH TO ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN

Assoc. Prof. Dr Eng. Arch. Krystyna Januszkiewicz1


Msc. Eng. Arch. Natalia Paszkowska (PhD Student)1

1
West Pomeranian University of Technology Szczecin

ABSTRACT
This paper explores the possibilities of architectural design to benefit human condition,
which encompasses physical and mental well-being, environmental quality of life
during the Climate Change era. The first part deal with the evolution of the building
envelope as a focus of design innovation in the twenty first century parallels
advancements in envelope engineering and building science, as well as developments in
computer engineering, cybernetics and artificial intelligence. The second part presents,
among others, results of the research program undertaken at West Pomeranian
University of Technology in Szczecin by authors. The program goes on to attempt to
solve the problem through architectural design of people suffering from depression in
cities under rapid development. In conclusion emphasizes, that the design of a climate
change active building envelope must be based on integrated energy concepts which
enable an interaction between the envelope, the building and the environment. This
design task can only be tackled by means of an integrated approach to design, i.e.
interdisciplinary collaboration between architects, facade and environmental engineers.
Keywords: architectural design, climate change, building envelope, human well-being,
urban environment

INTRODUCTION
In the last few decades, the impact of various environmental conditions, such as global
warming and needs to reduce CO2 emissions play an increasingly decisive role in the
design of new architectural and structural engineering [1]. Understanding the
interrelation between these impacts and the built environment put forth to architects and
engineers to develop innovative materials, components and systems, with the goal of
designing to building envelopes more active i.e. responsive, adaptive as well as
protective to variable and extreme climate conditions [2]. An intention of the climate-
oriented design is to eliminate negative environmental impact completely through
skillful, sensitive design [3]. The contemporary understanding of the building envelope
has fundamentally changed the way in which architects approach building design. This
new approach have shifted questions of performance away from the traditional formal
and physical properties of building envelopes to a discourse one a more expansive
definition of how they behave [4].

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ACTIVE BUILDING ENVELOPS - PAST AND PRESENT


The dictionary explanation of 'active' is to carry out an action. While the responsiveness
in contemporary architecture can be defined as a systems ability to adapt itself to
deliver an intended functionality under varying conditions through design variables
changing their physical values. In architecture the terms redefine form not as the shape
of a material object alone, but as the multitude of effects, the milieu of conditions,
modulation and microclimates that emanate from the exchange with its specific
environment - as a dynamic relationship that is both perceived and interacted with by
subject [5]. However, the term responsive" is often used interchangeably with
interactive and adaptive to describe, how natural and artificial systems can interact and
adapt[2].
A building envelope is the physical separator between the conditioned and
unconditioned environment of a building which includes a resistance to air, water, heat,
light, and noise transfer. It is the key element of building that determines the quality and
controls the indoor conditions irrespective of transient outdoor conditions. An expanded
understanding of building performance acknowledges that all forces acting on buildings
(climate, energies, information, human agents) are not static and fixed, but rather
mutable and transient. The evolution of the responsive building envelope as a focus of
design innovation in the last fifty years parallels advancements in envelope engineering
and building science, as well as developments in computer engineering, cybernetics and
artificial intelligence[4]. Additionally, new technologies, smart materials and distributed
systems have spurred the introduction of biological models for understanding
the behavior and design of building systems and their controls.
At the end of the 1960s a new approach to buildings design emerged. Buildings began
to be treated as environmental valves regulating the transmissions of energy, light, air,
moisture, and information between interior and exterior. For example, for Buckminster
Fuller (1895-1983), the building envelope was never a just simply cladding or
expression of materials, but rather the representation of ideas in an active and engaged
manner. Fuller was in fact interested in how a surface could mimic the sensitivity of the
human skin - letting in light and porosity - allowing it to operate as an animated smart
surface[6]. At the United States Pavilion for the Montreal Expo '67 Fuller and Sadao's
design shades on their spherical structure that were linked by central computer and
were to be reset six times per day according to the movement of the sun, but this
ambitious system was never implemented. By combining automated shades with
thermostat-controlled conventional air-conditioning equipment, the pavilion exploited
automatic and cybernetic systems to maintain a consistent temperature while
minimising fossil fuel use. It technologically approximated the bodys means of
regulating itself homeostatically, so as to maintain the stable internal temperature cell
that we require to survive[7].
Recently, quite often we encounter the term building skin in reference to the
buildings outer envelope. However, the use of the term skin is more than merely
a metaphor; the buildings envelope can be considered quite literally as a complex
membrane capable of energy, material and information exchanges. It can be designed to
operate as part of a holistic building metabolism and morphology, and will often be
connected to other parts of the building, including sensors, actuators and command
wires from the building management system[8]. In the twentieth first century with the

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use of parametric and multi-criteria optimization digital tools, buildings envelopes can
be designed to respond to various requirements. A new generation of high-performance
envelopes have contributed to the emergence of sophisticated assemblies combining
real-time environmental response, advanced materials, dynamic automation with
embedded microprocessors, wireless sensors and actuators, and design-for-manufacture
techniques.
The new understanding of the building envelope manifests itself in the well-known
Media-TIC building (2007-2011) in Barcelona designed by Cloud 9 Architects and
envelope specialists Vector Foiltec Ltd. (Fig.1). It is a digitally designed architecture,
built using the digital tools of CAD-CAM.

Fig.1. Cloud 9 Architects , Media-TIC building, Barcelona, 2007-2011 [9]


The envelope of this building features a pillow cladding system made of polymer ETFE
with encased lamella fins whose pneumatic mechanisms are automatically activated by
light sensors that respond to the presence of solar energy. A temperature sensor
activates a vertical cloud nitrogen particles, generating air. The ETFE coating cools and
protects the building from solar heat. The density of the particles generates a solar filter.
This mechanism, created exhaustive research represents a very low percentage of cost
with respect the entire project, 5 percent in [9].
Another example of active building envelopes perform and regulate solar energy
is the outer coating on Al Bahar Towers (2010-2012) in Abu Dhabi designed by Aedas
architects and Arup engineers (Fig. 2). The coating is a modular, dynamic, solar shading
system comprising 1049 modules per tower that individually open and close in response
to the movement - of the sun throughout the day. The opening mechanism, a linear
screw-jack actuator with electric motor, is in the center of each module and causes the
triangular face of the envelope to fold into its center. This is automatically controlled by
a Building Management System (BMS) that computes the state of each module in
response to the data sent to it by light sensors and anemometers (sensors for measuring
wind speed) [10].

Fig. 2. Aedas architects, Arup engineers, Al Bahar Towers, Abu Dhabi, 2010-2012 [10].

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The towers envelope reduces solar gain by more than 5 percent, creating a more
comfortable internal environment for its occupants. A bespoke application was
developed using Javascript and advanced parametric technologies to simulate the
movement of the faade in response to the suns path [10]. It demonstrates how
parametric modelling can be used to tune the complexities of an optimal, energy
efficient design so that also takes into account the constraints and limitations of
fabrication.
The most common shading devices are use different shapes and forms on the faade to
cover up windows or apertures and create shaded areas while using low transmission
glazing to limit the amount of solar gain through windows and apertures.
In contrast, the wind does not often affect the dynamic shaping of the facade. Wind as
a natural element in itself is strong enough to provide a dynamic pattern of motion
without wasting any energy. The Brisbane Domestic Terminal Carpark in Australia
(2011) has installed 250,000 aluminium plates to create a wind-power facade. As it
responds to the ever-changing patterns of the wind, the faade will create a direct
interface between the building and its natural environments.
Increasing wind loads and heavy rain water are factors, characterized by the climate
change era. Despite research efforts spanning over almost a century, it is not surprising
that wind-driven rain and rainwater runoff are still very active research topics [11].
The most relevant results of this research activity has been the Bioskin system for
building envelopes which was used by Nikkei Sekkei architect's NBF Osaki Building
(2012) in Tokyo. This is a system of ceramic pipes, affixed to the side of a building,
which absorbs heat through rainwater evaporation, creating an urban heat island effect
by cooling the building as well as its immediate surroundings. Through this process, the
surface temperature of the building enclosure can be reduced by as much as 12 C. and
its micro-climate by about 2 C. If a large number of buildings in a city use this type of
system, ambient air temperature could be reduced to the point that cooling loads for the
surrounding buildings, even those without the system installed, could also be reduced.
Recently smart materials have also become extremely attractive for architects and
structural engineers (in academia as well as practicing) who aim to increase
functionality and performance while at the same time reduce energy use. These
materials are important for building envelopes and architectural skins because they
allow the building's surface to react to changes automatically, both inside and out.
For example, Doris Sung, principle of DO|SU Studio Architecture and faculty member
at the University of Southern California, is experimenting with the use of thermo-
bimetals for building skins that are able to open their pores to self-ventilate without the
use of external energy sources[12]. One of the most significant characteristics of smart
materials is that they have the ability to transform their physical properties and/or shape,
in order to exchange energy without requiring any external source of power. Laminated
metals with differential thermal coefficients, form into a new shape when exposed to set
temperature points, inducing tension and causing movement change within the thermo-
bimetal. When the heat source is removed, the bimetal returns to its original shape.
The examples listed show that by fusing together these techniques of bio-design, and
performance oriented technology with a specified performance criteria, along with
a geometric layout, we can create a highly integrated and efficient energy system.

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PATH FORWARD ON PROTECTIVE ENVELOPES


As for sustainability and especially relating to climate change orientated-design, an
envelope (more precisely; building skin) will be the most essential design component.
A building envelope, without a distinction between walls and roofs, is the interface
between exterior environmental factors and the interior demands of the occupants. The
envelope will respond to changing environmental conditions both interior and exterior
while also maintaining its indoor environment. These envelopes should have adaptation
strategies that anticipate exterior environmental variations as well as the building's
intended interior activities and ultimate effects on its inhabitants. As defined in climate
change literature adaptive capacity is the property of a system to adjust its
characteristics to expand its coping range[8]. In practical terms, adaptive capacity is the
ability to implement effective adaptation strategies, or to react to stresses to reduce any
likelihood of harmful outcomes.
In 1960 Fuller and Sadao proposed to the city of New York that they build a two mile
geodesic dome spanning Midtown Manhattan that would regulate weather and reduce
air pollution. Fuller imagined a massive architectural surface that would regulate the
citys ecosystem. They delivered this design along with a series of surprising
calculations: the Dome would reduce heat loss by scaling the city to one eighty-fifth of
its surface area; the elimination of snowplowing alone would make up for heating costs;
buildings inside the Dome could be built lighter and cheaper without the need for
weatherproofing; and interior air could be heated by remote plants [7].
Nowadays this futuristic project is a seminal work on protective envelops for the build
environment and smaller urban-space areas, through the use of smart skins. Fuller's and
Sadao's concept, together with claimed calculation results shows how many energy
factors are left unused. There are a number of other omnipresent energy sources that
most of the time are not incorporated into building design.
For example, Future Cities Labs Xeromax Envelope (2012) is a quarter-scale
experiment for a responsive building envelope calibrated and tuned to its environment.
The structure consists of a robotic system, an experimental interface and
a microclimatic machine, that registers energy cycles and interactions over time while
harvesting solar energy and protecting the building from the local climate. Xeromax
Envelope is proposed as a second-skin to an existing building and becomes a register of
present and forecasted conditions. The model weaves ultra thin custom actuators, arrays
of light and proximity sensors through the extent of the surface which transforms as
it registers the changing conditions around it.
Cities that focus on smart development have to seek innovative solutions and wisely
manage resources in order to become a forces for economic development. The
continuing development of urbanization is one of the major global environmental
challenges directly affecting human health today. People spend more than 90% of their
lives within buildings [1].While the physical health issues influenced by climate change
are already well known, the impact on mental health has only begun to be uncovered
within the last decade. However, major factors related to build environment that
significantly affect mood and the human endocrine system have already been
discovered. There are 350 million people that live with depression today. In the era of
climate change the number of people suffering from depression continues to grow.

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The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030 it could be the most widespread
disease in the world.
Last year these issues were addressed by Krystyna Januszkiewicz (Leader of Digitally
Designed Architecture Lab) and faculty member at the WPUT (West Pomeranian
University of Technology) in Szczecin. The research program (Climate Change
Adapted Architecture and Structure) is focused on adaptive envelopes designed for
modern buildings in cities experiencing recent rapid development. The envelopes
designed to have adaptation strategies to anticipate exterior environmental variations as
well as interior interaction with inhabitants. With the use of parametric and multi-censor
optimization tools, envelopes are programed to respond to the certain criteria. Cities
produce lot of energy e.g. sound, smell, friction, that is not used again, so it is worth
widening the range of storage inputs.

RESEARCH
In the first part of our research project, the main negative and positive factors affecting
mental health are in large metropolises are defined (Fig.3a). The impact negative effects
of climate change along with their correlation with depression are discussed.

Fig. 3a-b. Environmental factors influencing depression


and antidepressant factors scheme and the basic principle of envelope working[13]
The second part of the research program goes on to attempt to solve this problem
through architectural design, using the latest technology and methods. The intention of
this design was to not only to minimise but to eliminate any negative environmental
impact completely. This was possible by using intelligent and sensitive design
conceptualization (Fig.3b). The proposed building envelope would be responsible for
the exchange and process of information of the exterior with the interior by turning
external negatives into internal positives. The working principle was inspired through
the basic principle of how natural neuron networks works [13].

RESULTS
The capacity for building skin to actively support building function is critical to the
future of building envelopes design. The presented proposal of building envelope
prepared by the Digitally Designed Architecture Lab (2015) at WPUT in Szczecin
shows the possibilities of how to use elements of existing environments and to then
process them into a friendly habitat using the latest building envelope technology.
Every environmental factor would be collected and processed through a customized
computing system. Input gathered from the building exterior would then be processed

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16th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2016

and recalculated with a new value to the building's interior. The intensity of released
outputs could be controlled according to internal needs. This could also be combined in
various ways to create the optimum microclimate [13].

Fig. 4. Protective human health envelope, 2015. Climate Adapted Architecture and
Structure Research Program, West Pomeranian University of Technology Szczecin [13]
Depending on the location and needs, the building functions could be combined for both
private and public roles. Different buildings could also create neural networks with each
other. In a big metropolis, stimuli can be very different for each part of the city. Some of
the buildings could collect more water or sunlight for others that need it. In this case,
buildings could contact each other through sending Wi-Fi information about the state of
collected recourses. Buildings, that save more energy, could transmit it to other that
have less, assuring a more sustainable balance in the network (Fig.4)[13]. It would
become a living part of the city, processing external factors such as light, noise, and air
quality; recycling it back into the building and, creating unique different atmospheres
of sound, smell and other inputs, that the city creates every day.

DISCUSION
The proposed antidepressant envelope will introduce new qualities for architecture
within the urban fabric. This vein-like architecture would be connected with its
surroundings, unlike it is today, where most of buildings aim to protect human health
from external factors. Scientists continue research into the improvement of building
envelopes in terms of their impact on the urban environment of city dwellers. Climate
change policy is often presented as a choice between mitigation and adaptation, where
mitigation refers to efforts toward reducing the accumulation of greenhouse gases in
the atmosphere and adaptation refers to adjusting to the impacts of a warming world
through enhancing an ecosystem's resilience. This is a false dichotomy, and to address
climate change we need to begin the process of writing both mitigating and adaptive
strategies into our building codes and standards, sources, that our city creates every day.

CONCLUSION
The capacity for building skin to actively support building function is critical to the
future of building envelope design. The design of an active climate control building
envelope must be based on integrated energy utilization that enables an interaction
between the envelope, the building and the environment. This design task can only be
tackled through an integrated approach to planning, i.e. an interdisciplinary
collaboration between architects, facade and environmental engineers. The
antidepressant envelope is the path forward.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors would like to thank Szczecin WPUT students (Masters Program): Sylwia
Gudaczewsska, Piotr Orowski and PhD student Konrad Zaremba for their contributions
to this work as well as for their efforts and enthusiasm throughout the Szczecin WPUT
workshop.

REFERENCES
[1] Ebi K. L., Sussman F.G., Wilbanks T. J., Reid C.E., Hayhoe K., Thomas J.V.,
Weaver C.P., Analyses of the effects of global change on human health and welfare and
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Subcommittee on Global Change Research, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Washington DC, USA, 2008, pp. 1-11;
[2] Beesley P., Hirosue S., and Ruxton J., Responsive Architectures. Subtle
Technologies 06, Cambridge: Riverside Architectural Press, 2006, pp. 3-11;
[3] Roaf S., Crichton D. and Nicol F., Adapting buildings and cities for climate change:
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[4] Velikov K., Thn G., Responsive Building Envelopes: Characteristics and Evolving
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[5] Hensel M., Menges A., Inclusive Performance; Efficiency Versus Effectiveness.
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[6] Rohan T.M., From Microcosm to Macrocosm. The Surface of Fuller and Sadaos
US Pavilion at Montreal Expo67, AD vol.73, no.2, March/April, 2003, pp. 50-56;
[7] Massey J., Buckminster Fuller's cybernetic pastoral: the United States Pavilion at
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[8] Wigginton M., Harris J., Intelligent Skins, Elsevier Architectural Press, Oxford,
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[9] Cloud 9 Architects MEDIA-TIC Building, Press release, May 2007.
[10] Januszkiewicz K., Zwierzycki M., Sensitive skin of Al Bahar Towers, Abu Dhabi,
UAE, AV, vol. 57/1, 2013, pp. 10-23;
[11] Kumark.S., Stratopoulos T., Wisse J.A, Field measurement data of wind loads on
rainscreen walls, Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics vol.91/11,
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[12] Sung D.K, Skin Deep: Making Building Skins Breathe with Smart Thermo-
bimetals, Where Do You Stand?: Proceedings of the 2011 ACSA National Conference,
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[13] Januszkiewicz K., Gudaczewska S., Orlowski P., Antidepressant Infrastructure for
Vertical Cities. Experimental approach to investigate antidepressant structures for
regions in rapid development, 4th Annual International Conference on Architecture and
Civil Engineering (ACE) 2016, Singapore, GSTF 2016, pp. 323-329;
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16 International Multidisciplinary Scientific Geoconference SGEM 2016 Go Green Vienna 2016
ISBN 978-619-7105-79-7 / ISSN 1314-2704, 2 - 5 November, 2016, Book 6 Vol. 3, pp. 515-522.

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