The Double skin facades










The story of Double Skins The facades are described in several books, reports and articles.

Saelens (2002) mentions that “in 1849, Jean-Baptiste Jobard, at that time Director of the Museum of Industry in Brussels, described several early versions of mechanically ventilated double facades, which he mentions how to ventilate hot air in winter between two glazing, and in the summer – cold air “.

Crespo claims, that for the first time a double-skinned curtain wall is used in 1903 in Steiff factory in Giengen, Germany. According to her the main goals are to increase the sun light in the building taking into account the cold weather and the strong winds in the area. The solution is a three-story construction with a ground floor, the two upper floors being reserved for work rooms. The building is a success and are build two additional structures with double skin facade system in 1904 and 1908. Interesting fact is that due to budget considerations for the construction of the building, wood was used instead of steel. All buildings are still in use.

In 1903 the architect Otto Wagner (1841 – 1918) won the Design Office Post Office Savings Bank project in Vienna, Austria. The building has been structured in two stages from 1904 to 1912 with double skylight in the main hall. In the late 20’s of 20th century double skin facades have been used for other reasons. There are two cases that can be defined clearly. In Russia (USSR) Moisei Ginsburg (1892 – 1946) experimented with a double-skinned system in the Narodomin Municipal Financial Block of the USSR in Moscow (1928). And Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965) in Moscow designed Centrosoy where he used double-skin system as well. He even proposes to make glass screens with a vacuum instead of air between hermetically sealed two layers of glass. One year later, he will begin a Cite de Refuge (1929) and Immeuble Clarte (1930) dormitory project in Paris where similar ideas have also been implemented.

Slowly or not the technology of the double-skin facades is progressing until the late 70’s and the early 80’s. In the 1980s, this type of facades began to gain momentum in their realization. Most of these facades are designed to use the environment for energy efficiency, for example the offices Leslie and Godwin . In other cases the main reason for the usage is the aesthetic effect of several layers of glass.

In the 1990s two factors have a strong influence over the spreading of the double-skinned facades. The growing environment concerns have a influence over the architectural projects, from technical point of view but also from political influence that makes “green buildings” a good image of corporate architecture.

[Harris Poirazis: Double Skin Facades for Office Buildings – Literature Review. Division of Energy and Building Design, Department of Construction and Architecture, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University, 2004. Report EBD-R–04/3] + additions from STUDIO CAD


Definition of the double skin facades

Ventilated double facades can be defined as two single traditional facades, one in front of each other. Each of these two façades is called skin (hence the widely used name “double skin façades”). The ventilated cavity, which can range from a few centimeters to several meters (for the broadest, accessible cavity cavities), lies between these two “skins”.

There are façade concepts where ventilation in the cavity is controlled by fans and / or holes, and others where they are not controlled (ventilation in this case occurs with permanently fixed ventilation openings – natural convection). The outer and inner skins are not necessarily dense (for example, “blinds” facades). Automated equipment, such as removable sunscreens, valves or fans, are mostly integrated into the façade. The main difference between the ventilated double façade and the multi-layer glazing, with or without integrated sun protection devices in the space between the windows, is the ability to provide controlled ventilation in the cavity of the double façade.”

[Belgian Building Research Institute [BBRI]: Ventilated double facades – Classification and illustration of facade concepts, Department of Building Physics, Indoor Climate and Building Services, (2004)]

“Essentially, a pair of glass skins separated by an air corridor, usually the base layer serves as an isolation, the airspace between the layers of glass acts as isolation against extreme temperatures, wind and sound, Sun Protection Devices are usually located between the two” skins. “All elements can be arranged in a variety of permutations and combinations of transparent and opaque areas.”

[Harrison K. & Meyer-Boake T.: The Tectonics of the Environmental Skin, University of Waterloo, School of Architecture, (2003)]

Double skin façade is a system consisting of two glass layers (“skins”) arranged to form air streams in the cavity between them.Ventilation in this cavity can be natural, forced (by means of fans ) or mechanical.In addition to the type of ventilation, the source and direction of the airflow may vary depending on different conditions such as weather conditions, use, location, time of day, and the HVAC strategy (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning Glass The layers (“skins”) can be made of single glass or glass screens, the distance between them being from 20 centimeters to 2 m. Often, in order to protect and release the heat during the cooling period, the sunscreen is placed in the cavity.

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