Adaptive Facades

“To enhance environmental performance and create dramatic visual effects, architects devise facades that adapt to changing conditions” Russell Fortmeyer.

The quote above shows us that architects are aware of the energy demand buildings have and are trying to minimize it. In order to keep energy costs to a minimum, but still keep occupants comfortable on the inside, architects can no longer just slap on a glass facade on a building just because it looks aesthetically pleasing.  Architects are coming up with elaborate building facades that are energy efficiency, provide thermal comfort, and have cost savings. There are many ways to accomplish this, from double wall facades, movable facades, to even facades that utilize sensors on roofs to track the sun which can open or close certain portions.  Though this technology is out there, a lot of clients are hesitant on using them due to cost, maintenance of the system, and how they perform in the long run.  Since these new facades might become burdensome to some clients, most opt out in having them installed. Maybe as technology advances and these high-tech systems perform well and cut energy costs. There operating and install costs will drop and more people will be able to afford them.


An example of a high tech facade here in Chicago is Loyola University, which has a double wall facade to help with its energy consumption, while still looking aesthetically pleasing.


An alternative to some of these high tech expensive facades are low tech inexpensive ones.  Metal louvers or mesh screens can be used to shade glazed buildings. These low tech devices can be custom designed with a pattern of your choice and give some energy savings as well.  These low tech systems do not involve any sensors or movable objects, yet can be aesthetically pleasing too. Most of the time the architects will work with the client on what portions of the building would he or she want shaded and in what kind of pattern. The client and architect have a variety of choices to choose from, from the kind of material, color, size of openings, vertical or horizontal patterns, and so on. This shows that not a lot of money needs to be spent on a high-end system to reduce energy costs of a building. All it takes is just some time to figure out where shading devices need to be place (this depends on region) and what kind of pattern you would like on the screen.

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An example of a low tech facade here in Chicago is a Law Firm, which uses a perforated metal facade to reflect some of the suns energy.







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