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Kinetic Architecture: Designs for Active Envelopes

Russell Fortmeyer and Charles Linn

  • Format: Book

  • Pages: 224

  • Publisher: Images Publishing

  • Date Published: Jun 2013

  • Stock Code: 79068

  • ISBN: 9781864704952

  • Binding: Hardback

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Description

Authors Russell Fortmeyer and Charles Linn trace the historical development of active facades in modern architecture, and reveal how contemporary architects and consultants design and test these systems. A shift in the architecture industry's focus in the last 20 years toward ecological concerns, long-term value, and user comfort has coincided with significant new developments in digital controls, actuators, shading typologies, building physics simulation capability, and material performance.

Customer Reviews

Professor Alan Dunlop FRIAS

Date Reviewed: April 2014

The front cover is intriguing. Is the image part of an alien spacecraft, an insect carapace or giant origami? Actually, it is a close up of a sophisticated shading system for the Abu Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters by Aedas. The cover, like most other images in Kinetic Architecture Designs for Active Envelopes, is striking. Apparently, inspiration for the shading system was drawn from traditional shading screens, called mashrabiyas. These mashrabiyas open and close independently, to minimise solar heat gain as the sun moves across the building. In summer, Abu Dhabi is beyond hot with temperatures of 45c, in winter temperatures drop to 12c. I tell students to be wary of buildings that shape shift, for such slight of hand often masks an absence of deep thinking about design. So just how important are active building envelopes in architecture today? Well, in his foreword, renowned architect Cristoph Ingenhoven considers the building envelope to be a third skin; having to act as protectively our own skin and to be as adaptable as our clothing. The skin is the most versatile organ of the human organism he writes I want my facades to be just as adaptable and active. Just what he means is explained inside by 1 Bligh Street, Sydney. The developers wanted the building by Architectus + ingenhoven to be the first sustainable high rise in Australia and to use the most advanced environmental systems. The passive double wall faade of insulating inner glass and single glazed outer glass with aerodynamic louvres is set out in diagrams and plans over six pages, in detail. For the authors Russell Fortmeyer and Charles D. Linn however, this book is not about buildings that move or clever facade design. It is about energy. The authors declare their motivation openly, we are interested in the envelope and innovative ways it can be used to modulate energy in its primary forms In this, they succeed, as the book explores in a comprehensive and rigorous manner how contemporary architects have reacted to escalating international concern over the use of natural resources and climate change by modulating their designs to consume less energy, perform better and respond to site context. The book has two sections, the first is a well written essay by Charles D. Linn which considers the history and development of the glass facade in architecture, using precedent of a few important projects like the 16th Century Hardwick Hall by Robert Smythson, Paxtons greenhouse at Chatsworth and the Steif Toy Factory in Germany, all supported by expert analysis. Linn is an architect and until recently, a senior editor at Architectural Record. His writing is accessible, jargon free and a pleasure to read. His co- author, journalist and engineer Russell Fortmeyer, also writes well. Fortmeyers essay Tugendhat House Passive Mies to Active Mies is included as one of the earliest examples of a dynamic faade used to mediate environmental conditions The coverage is enlightening, comprehensive and the photography excellent. Yet this is not, as Linn points out, a book about history or theory. We have written case studies of projects with active facades that react to exterior conditions for both energy savings and maintaining human comfort. These are from all over the world, many have not been documented outside their respective countries. These exemplar projects are set out clearly in the second section. The best offer stunning photography of environmentally exceptional buildings but also clear detail of how the buildings perform to reduce energy. The California Academy of Science by Renzo Piano is, for example, visually striking and its sustainable credentials are explained and supported by working drawings, sections and diagrams. So too is Unilever Haus in Hamburg by Behnisch Architekten. This building uses an outer layer of synthetic polymer as a low cost method of achieving a double skin system to improve energy performance and to create a building which has re-energised the citys waterfront. The most interesting project from Australia is the Surry Hills Library and Community Centre by Francis- Jones Morehen Thorp. A small, public building it has exceptional detail and environmental credentials, with two very different facades, in response to site context and orientation. One has vertical timber louvres which react to the position of the sun and minimise solar gain inside. Away from direct sunlight, a double skinned glass faade over four storeys, encloses an environmental atrium which pulls air in from the roof, filters it through bamboo plants and into a gabion wall in the basement, which cools the air. Kinetic Architecture is, as the authors intended, a valuable resource for architects, engineers and students. It is jargon free, accessible and the photography is exceptional. An entertaining and pleasurable book for the professional and those generally interested in architecture and in the environment.

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