Sto Werkstatt Features Alternative Glass Architecture by Space Popular

Sto Werkstatt in London is currently showcasing an exhibit featuring StoVentec glass that was created by the innovative design firm Space Popular.

Werkstatt – which means workshop in German – is a showcase and test center in London for Sto’s innovative facade and interior materials. In addition to the workshop’s extensive resource library, the center offers technical consultations, exhibitions, speakers and seminars.

The current exhibit, “The Glass Chain”, is by Space Popular, a Bangkok-based multidisciplinary design and research practice led by Lara Lesmes & Fredrik Hellberg.  The exhibit, which will run until December 14, features StoVentec Glass that can be used as an external rain screen cladding system, and as an interior decorative option. In their UK debut at Werkstatt, Space Popular has redefined the potential of the material with its colorful and energizing installation, which encourages the imaginative use of glass in building design.

The title “The Glass Chain” is a reference to the infamous exchange of letters by a group of German architects from 1919-1920 initiated by Bruno Taut, who fantasized about the vast possibilities of an incredible new construction material: glass. He believed that all architecture, and even furniture, could be made of glass. His vision of the material was never realized, and glass simply became a solution for windows and walls.

Now, almost 100 years later, Space Popular – inspired by Taut’s vision — is taking glass applications to a new level. Working with Sto technical experts, they have created a kaleidoscopic glass construction that explores different ranges of scale, playing with our visual perception of glass doorways as grand arches and small steps as giant pediments.

Curated exhibitions such as this at Sto Werkstatt are an opportunity to explore the changing nature of collaboration, between architects, materials manufacturers and applicators.

Materials on display include glass and rendered rain screen cladding, seamless acoustics, facade elements and intelligent interior and exterior paint coatings.


Material Selection Conference Yields Valuable Product Data

Sto product experts participated in Durability & Design’s Material Selection Conference last week which showcased the latest in high performance coatings and air moisture barrier products for exterior walls.

At Durability + Design’s inaugural Material Selection Conference last week (Sept. 26), the themes that prevailed were data collection and communication. Though different challenges were discussed — from air leakage to moisture damage — the resounding message was: know your materials inside and out.

The one-day forum focused on the capability of coatings to manage moisture intrusion into exterior walls, and how liquid-applied air barriers can limit heat, air and moisture transfer through walls. The effect of permeance on exterior wall coating performance, as well as how specific coatings and water repellent brands performed on exterior walls were also discussed.

Manufacturer representatives participating in panel discussions offered their opinions on a variety of scenarios and recommended applicable products. Chuck Duffin, Ed Telson, and Tyson Lodge, representing Sto Corp., participated in these panels, educating attendees on how Sto coatings and air moisture barrier products perform on exterior walls in different conditions and circumstances.

Andre O. Desjarlais, program manager for the Building Envelope Systems Research Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, discussed the importance of WUFI software (an acronym for Wärme Und Feuchte Instationär—which, translated, means heat and moisture transiency) and why this hygrothermal modeling is valuable based on the wide range of materials available today consistent with the drive for energy efficiency.

While WUFI models yield a lot of data for designers of durable building envelopes, understanding this data and using it appropriately are critical for achieving the construction of energy-efficient, moisture-resistant walls, roofs and basements. Again, the need for knowing your products and how to apply them was reiterated.

The value of using the web-based Energy Savings Calculator developed by ORNL, along with quality assurance and installation requirements for liquid-applied air barriers, were also discussed to ensure building envelope energy efficiency and air tightness. It was noted that air leakage rates of a building depend on multiple variables, including envelope airtightness, HVAC system operation, occupancy, weather and the stack effect. Fluid-applied air barrier products and installation considerations were also debated.

The overall objective of the event was about making buildings last longer by integrating design objectives with exterior performance objectives, selecting materials wisely and knowing those materials. Regardless of which products are selected for durability and design, the manufacturers, architects and contractors in the audience seemed to agree that working closely with, and consulting, manufacturers regarding air barrier and wall coating products was the best way to ensure successful project outcomes.

 

 


Designing for Resilience–Part One

Key West, Florida, underwater.

Key West, Florida, underwater.

As the frequency of severe weather events escalates, resilient design solutions need to be found to safeguard people and the economy. With the recent devastation of Hurricane Irma, clearly coastal cities are increasingly exposed to the risk of flooding.

It isn’t just about hurricane winds, flooding and rising tides however. Resilient design must also address the shelter-in-place realities of tornadoes, blizzards, and heat waves. We are going to address all of these in our current blog series.

Living with Water

From Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 to Hurricane Irma this year, coastal cities are increasingly exposed to the risk of flooding and rising coastal tides. With sea levels rising in almost every coastal area in America, even without an epic storm like Irma, large percentages of urban coastal areas face the threat of flooding. Living with water seems to be a new reality and the risks facing coastal cities must be addressed with resilient design.

While current flooding strategies exist in many coastal areas, most do not thoroughly address future challenges. The resiliency of coastal cities relies on architects and engineers and city planners rethinking how they design cities but also the multitude of individual spaces that comprise the urban environment. Extreme weather heavily impacts our infrastructure and real property, creating unique issues for developers and owners.

Resilient Design Solutions & Sea Level Rise

Should traditional mixed-use buildings by redesigned to move restaurants and retail to higher floors? What impact does that have on consumers and what do the street-level spaces become? If you build high enough in a flood zone, the building and its occupants may be safe, but the building will be inaccessible in flooded conditions.

Climate resilient strategies include wet-flooding (letting buildings flood without damaging major equipment or the structure and continuing operation even without power) and dry-flooding (keeping the water out with tight envelopes). Wet flooding requires materials that are capable of being submerged in water for 72 hours. So how long can a material be submerged without compromising its integrity? Can biomimicry be used to develop flood resistant materials? Are today’s water resistant products also resistant to submergence? There are no simple answers to these challenges. Both proactive and adaptive strategies should be examined for the future of our built environment.

Rather than wait for disaster, many coastal communities are tackling the issue of resilient design. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Resilient by Design Challenge is asking residents, community leaders and organizations to submit ideas that will shape a collaborative research process where design experts work with community experts. The idea is to develop new, creative and implementable design solutions that will protect the Bay Area’s most vulnerable shoreline communities from increasingly severe storms and flooding — while also addressing critical issues such as disparities in housing, income and access to open space.

The Venice Environmental Studies Program at Boston University is exploring these questions  as well looking at how scientists and policy makers in the famous Floating City are collaborating to develop mutually beneficial solutions to protect against sea level rise. For instance, could a sea gate such as Venice’s flood barrier system Modulo Sperimental Elettromeccanico (MOSE) be built in Boston and how would it change that city’s architectural vernacular?

Because climate is no longer predictable, design professionals need to explore and consider an entirely new set of factors. Ignoring the reality of new and extreme climate variables could mean that the huge investments made in city infrastructure and buildings lose value over time.

More on resilient design next week!


Green Building Trends in Interior Office Design

The right interior office design can have a positive impact on employee attitude and productivity.

Even though office workers spend a large proportion of their time indoors, companies don’t always place a high priority on the design and interior features of their work space. Lobbies and meeting rooms typically get the most attention because they are used to impress clients or customers, while the more functional workspaces may be ignored.

As a result, research has shown that office workers’ productivity can be impacted; some environment’s are so poor, it’s estimated that workers only spend three days out of five actually working. A dull, poorly lit, uncomfortable work space can lead to lack of focus, even depression, that is not conducive to productivity. The right office space design can have positive benefits on health and performance so here are some office design trends to consider for the year, as forecast by Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius.

  • A splash of color can be an inexpensive way to brighten up an office space and can stimulate creativity and productivity; color experts claim shades of green are “the color” for 2017.
  • Office plants can increase productivity by 15 percent, which may be another benefit of the color green! Air plants and succulents are trending for office use right now as they are robust and long-lasting.
  • Adoption of the WELL Building Standard: a certification to support the health and well-being of employees based on air, light, and comfort is driving workspace design that is more compatible with long hours behind a desk.
  • Flexible design. While not a new concept for enhancing working environments, is gaining in popularity — with modular soft seating, desk pods, meet-point tables and breakout furniture.
  • Since 75% of all emotion is triggered by scent/smell; fragrant environments can not only provide a powerful customer experience but also make staff more productive. Or so they say!

How is your work space looking,feeling  and smelling these days?!?


The New World of Virtual Reality in Construction

Virtual building design is making a dramatic impact on the construction industry.

Okay.  You are an architect in Hong Kong, and you’re working with a construction company in San Francisco. You can both “look around” a computerized 3D model of your building (this is not new technology) but now you can also actually feel what it’s like to be right inside the structure by wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets, getting a 360-degree view. And, by wearing the same headsets, you can do this together and make real time changes even if you’re on opposite sides of the world.

Welcome to the world of virtual building design – a big leap for the construction industry, which has traditionally been more interested in bricks than clicks.

Building information modeling (BIM) – or developing a 3D digital prototype of a project – has been trending.  Using 3D gaming technology and cloud-based software, industry leaders are now bringing together building design environments and workflows into a single, navigable view. Users navigate these virtual designs almost like a video game.

The opportunity for reducing errors, keeping tabs on and tracking large complex projects while also saving money (30% of a project’s total budget is usually spent correcting errors not visible in the design stage) are the obvious benefits of this VR computer-aided design. It’s definitely disruptive technology, and it’s spawning new, streamlined building design practices that will change the nature of construction forever.


Can Green Buildings Make Us Smarter?

Green is good -- outside or inside an occupied building.

A recent study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) suggests that Green Buildings create optimized conditions for health and productivity. In a series of experiments, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) factors for both “green” and “conventional” buildings were simulated in a controlled environment that included office workers, and the researchers measured variables such as carbon dioxide variation, ventilation and exposure to volatile organic compounds in the building atmosphere.

The results? On average, cognitive scores for the two groups of workers were 61% higher for those working in a building with green features than with conventional construction.  In other words, green building can potentially deliver a smarter workforce.