illustrating the corridor facade configuration of a double skin facade . and an inner facade. • Double envelopes consist of an outer facade.INTRODUCTION • Multiple leaf wall assemblies used in the transparent or largely transparent portions of a building facade. an intermediate space. • The outer leaf provides weather protection and a first line of acoustic Isolation. Massachusetts. Section through the Genzyme Center in Cambridge.

• In most cases sunshades are placed in the intermediate zone where they can operate freely. but with reasonable access for maintenance. while single glazing of the outer facade is sufficient to create the buffer space. . Through the use of open slots and operable elements in the glass planes it is possible to ventilate the interstitial space on warm days and admit partially conditioned air to adjacent rooms on cool days.INTRODUCTION • The intermediate space is used to buffer thermal impacts on the interior. • Double glazing of the inner façade provides an optimum thermal barrier (for most climates).

SELECTION CRITERIA Double envelopes present the building designer with an extraordinary array of options. and maintenance requirements. . The selection of an appropriate system proceeds through the following considerations: • • • • relationship of the glazing to the overall facade performance objectives of the transparencies construction strategies.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GLAZING AND FACADE Traditional facades usually have punched openings or horizontal bands of glass surrounded by solid wall elements. Structural loads are collected in the solid portions and the principal glass Box-windows within the double skin facade plane is often drawn back into the of the GAAG Architecture Gallery in Gelsenkirchen. In such cases it is relatively easy to add a second glazing plane flush with the exterior face and attached to the same structure. Examples include the traditional storm window and its modern counterpart. the “box window” . depth of the wall. Germany.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GLAZING AND FACADE • A second façade type consists of an outer glazing mounted a considerable distance in front of only selected portions of the facade. and attached sunspaces • An inner leaf of glass allows the captured space to act as a double envelope and develops an intermediate zone that is large enough to be a useful space under the right conditions. glazed loggias. Italy. . • Examples include oriel windows. Glazed balconies in Venice.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GLAZING AND FACADE • Finally. • This general type can range from a glass “re-wrap” of an existing structure to a free standing glass box with on or more buildings sheltered inside • Included in this type are the closelycoupled glass double facades that have become popular in Europe since the mid 1990s. Outer glazing covers the entire surface of the facade at the Arup offices in London. . double envelopes may consist of an outer leaf of glass across the entire surface of the facade.

.PERFORMANCE GOALS • Double envelopes can be further characterized by the tasks they are asked to perform. These requirements determine whether ventilation openings are to be developed in one or both glass leaves and what elements are to be placed inside the captured space. • Most double envelopes are designed to maximize daylight while controlling solar gain • The interstitial space is used first and foremost as a protected enclosure for operable shading devices that might otherwise suffer from wind damage and weather exposure.

. • Second among typical performance attributes is acoustic isolation in urban environments. • Double envelope installations that are considered to be effective performers are usually motivated by one or both of these two factors.PERFORMANCE GOALS • Solar energy absorbed by the shading devices is returned to the exterior environment by free ventilation of heated air through paired openings in the outer leaf or by stack ventilation of the entire facade. The best examples of successful solutions use an unbroken outer leaf of glass with ventilation air for the cavity coming from a remote source or through a sound-baffled inlet system.


• Double envelopes mitigate the surface temperature of the interior glass. . reducing the mechanical intervention required to provide comfortable conditions under both heating and cooling modes.PERFORMANCE GOALS • Additional performance benefits include the opportunity to ventilate occupied spaces through the inner leaf with the buffer zone acting to mitigate air temperature contrasts in the winter or adverse wind effects in tall buildings.

PERFORMANCE GOALS • The interstitial space can be used as a solar collector to warm the building directly or to move incident energy from a sunny exposure to a shaded exposure. although other forms of stack ventilation are more cost-effective. . • Thermal siphon effects generated in a double facade can be used to draw air out of a building. • The space can also be used to preheat fresh air for introduction to spaces via the mechanical system in buildings not ventilated directly through the skin.

. infill system • The name “corridor facade” is given to this and any configuration in which the intermediate space is divided floor by floor.CONSTRUCTION STRATEGIES • One configuration consist of a single layer of glass attached to cantilevered edges of floor plates with a thermally insulated. • Often the outer layer is a curtain wall . while the protected inner leaf is a much less expensive storefront system provided by a different vendor.

the outer glass leaf may be suspended beyond the edge of the primary structure using struts. or trusses. cables. In its pure form.CONSTRUCTION STRATEGIES To maximize usable floor area. this approach leads to the “multistory facade” in which the cavity is ventilated through large openings at the base and the parapet. .

can be lifted into place in one step.CONSTRUCTION STRATEGIES By adding monumental glass panels to the outside face. with inner and outer glass leaves installed. . For large projects it is often desirable to prefabricate the double envelope as a unitized curtain wall system. they may be connected to adjacent units to reduce the number of ventilation ports and separate the intake and exhaust locations across the facade. fixed shades can be replaced with lighter weight operable units that can respond to changes in sun angle and intensity without having to resist external weather forces. Complete assemblies. Alternatively. The units may be self-contained “box windows” with air intake and exhaust ports for cavity ventilation.

” • Any technique that joins façade modules across multiple interior rooms may improve airflow and reduce costs. A continuous vertical cavity can be used as a thermal chimney to exhaust the individual units on either side in what is called a “shaft-box facade.CONSTRUCTION STRATEGIES • Typically this is a “corridor facade” with staggered vents. but raises concerns about fire spread and sound transmission from room to room through the facade cavity .

• Large-scale corridor facades meet this requirement without disturbing the workspaces. • Multistory facades often incorporate service walkways of metal grating into the cantilevered structure of the interstitial zone. but at the cost of significant floor area around the building perimeter that is likely to be underutilized. .MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENTS • The ultimate configuration of a double envelope will be greatly influenced by the need to get inside the cavity to clean the glass surfaces and maintain ventilation controls and shading devices.

the depth of the intermediate cavity can be reduced from a matter of feet [meters] to a matter of inches [millimeters]. building codes and cultural traditions require that a high percentage of the inner glazing leaf be operable to allow for individual control over outdoor air in the workspace.MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENTS • In Europe. particularly if the cost of the operable units is offset by a reduction in mechanical plant capacity due to increased use of natural ventilation. especially Germany. . • If operable glass can provide access into each facade unit. This greatly improves the material efficiency of a unitized production system.

a double envelope facade is a very complex system that may not behave totally intuitively.KEY ARCHITECTURAL ISSUES • The primary architectural issue related to double envelope construction is the fact that building appearance and thermal and lighting performance are essentially defined by the success of the facade. • It is imperative that the designer have clear design intent. explicit design criteria. . Unfortunately. and a sense that the intended envelope design can deliver what is expected.

Some of the most effective double envelope applications are “re-wraps” of existing building envelopes that are poor energy performers.IMPLEMENTATION CONSIDERATIONS • The effectiveness of double envelope systems is widely debated and difficult to summarize. and the cost of long-term maintenance. the cost of a compatible structural system. A simple comparison of facade costs has little meaning without also comparing the floor space available for use. • One must also examine the qualitative benefits to building occupants and the ecological impacts of the materials required. total building energy flows. . the size and complexity of the mechanical plant.

IMPLEMENTATION CONSIDERATIONS • Generally. . double envelopes should not be the first green strategy adopted. • They should be considered when and if they complement other steps taken in pursuit of overall environmental quality and energy efficiency. • Many of the benefits associated with double envelopes can be achieved through means that have far less design and cost impact. • Openings in a facade should be designed to optimize the harvesting of daylight and provide meaningful connections to the outdoor environment.

air. whether acoustic isolation is required. Develop a narrative to express design intent and related design criteria for the building envelope that will be affected by a double envelope facade—especially thermal and visual comfort. . whether individual control of light. 2. and climate control systems.DESIGN PROCEDURE 1. Consider the various types of double envelope systems and construction strategies and sketch a building plan and a wall section that has the elements necessary to deliver the intended performance. and view is intended . energy efficiency. Address issues such as whether the interstitial space will be occupiable .

Reiterations of the conceptual sketches are made as models (physical and simulation) are used to analyze various building systems. . Do a reality check on the implications inherent in the above narrative. but rather to validate the assumptions inherent in projections of system performance. 4.DESIGN PROCEDURE 3. How is day lighting performance enhanced by a double envelope? How will ventilation air flow through a double envelope? The purpose of this check is not to reject a double envelope strategy.

Germany is a “re-wrap” or reconstruction of an existing building in which an operable leaf of glass louvers has been added in front of a system of operable strip windows. . There are shades in the cavity.EXAMPLES Glass “wrap” facade (left) and close up of glass panels (right) used as shingles and hung from the facade of the Kuntshaus Art Gallery in Bergenz. Austria. The double envelope facade of Bayerische Vereinsbank building in Stuttgart. • • www.josef-gartner.Environmental strategies for schematic design • www.htm .com • www.BIBLIOGRAPHY • The Green Studio Handbook .battlemccarthy.demon.


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