In class and in the readings we learned about how buildings can use the environment to their advantage.  I immediately was reminded of the GSW Headquarters in Berlin by Saurbruch-Hutton building we learned about in ARCH 102. The façade of the building does not only look colorful, but it is also reacting to the environment.  The colored louvers can be rotated by the inhabitants to allow more or less ventilation while windows and vents on the opposite side weave together to create more operable ventilation.  This creates a thermal buffer zone between the interior and exterior.  The canopy on top the building lowers pressure between the building and the canopy, accelerating wind in that space to clear heat out of the building that is drawn upward by the stack effect.

While searching for some good case studies of reactive architecture, I stumbled upon the EPA’s website and some facts about buildings and the environment.  Hopefully spreading these around will push architects to build more sustainable architecture that reacts to the environment, instead of the letting the environment react to the building.  You can see all the facts here:

Here are some I thoguht were important to point out:

Buildings accounted for 38.9 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2005. Residential buildings accounted for 53.7 percent of that total, while commercial buildings accounted for the other 46.3 percent.

Buildings accounted for 72 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2006 and this number will rise to 75% by 2025.  51 percent of that total was attributed to residential building use, while 49 percent was attributed to commercial building usage.

Buildings in the United States contribute 38.9 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, including 20.8 percent from the residential sector and 18.0 percent from the commercial sector (2008).

Of the 26 billion gallons of water consumed daily in the United States, approximately 7.8 billion gallons, or 30 percent, is devoted to outdoor uses. The majority of this is used for landscaping. The typical suburban lawn consumes 10,000 gallons of water above and beyond rainwater each year.


**Updated October 27, 2011 __________________________

We actually learned a lot about teh GSW Headquarters so I thought I’d put in my notes from class:

  • Thin slab is constructing that immediacy to the city
  • Integrated thinking*
  • Happening in concert in the rise of a new set of regulations (European Union – can’t put people in a building if they don’t have access to natural daylight)
  • Reducing energy loads
  • Exploring natural ventilation strategies
  • Example of a new urban form
  • Building form becomes a way of leveraging itself and becoming a mechanical system for it
  • Boundary between inside and outside becomes the infrastructure
    • Stack affect
    • Zone of space
      • when you don’t want the heat coming in you can block it
      • if you can heat up the louvers you can an air flow through the zone and it suctions into the space and creates a flow
      • sail-like structure
      • creates a flow, reinforces a draw
  • Windows/Louvers
    • West Side
      • Palette of color
      • Cool &Warm
      • Movable louvers, effective way to get heat gain
      • Motorized louvers
      • Operable windows
      • Not fully exposed, so when the sun hits them they heat up it increases the temperature
      • More sunprotection
    • East side
      • Opaque glass, clear glass woven together with ventilating panels (window provides a view and air à forming a façade)
      • Neutral side
      • Behind has a set of baffles that controls wind flow
  • Bufferzones
    • Building within a building
    • Outer skin is not completely closed, but it serves as a thermal buffer
    • Slows inflow across the zone
  • Winter
    • Thermal mass within the concrete floor
    • Clear, clean slab so you can use the radiating effect to operate on the people (works very directly)
  • Summer
    • Heat rises, can go across the slab
  • Heat exchanger
    • Can pull warm air within the space
    • Takes cool air, heats it up, takes it back in
  • Cross Ventilation
    • Rising air column becomes the ventilator
    • Buffer blocks strong
    • Not going to get a straight cross ventilation
    • Single banked
    • Is possible to separate the two with partitions
  • Roof
    • Sail structure
    • Expressive architecture
    • Maximum draw across and under the building  so as the air comes up it can help draw the air out