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Design Concepts for Building Facades – Workshop of the Detmolder Räume Woche 2022

Design Concepts for Building Facades – Workshop of the Detmolder Räume Woche 2022

Technological advancements in facade design and construction offer opportunities to improve the performance of architectural projects in terms of people’s health and comfort, environmental impact and costs throughout the life cycle of the building. Following the motto of this year’s European Facade Network conference “Teaching Facades for a Sustainable Future”, the workshop was organized in the framework of a cooperation agreement between TH OWL (Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe – Detmold, Germany) and UCB (Universidad Católica Boliviana – Santa Cruz, Bolivia), with the aim to share the research on facade engineering by members of the MID-FD program, and study the facade of a building that is currently under construction at UCB’s campus.

As part of the design week “Detmolder Räume Woche 2022”, the academic activity took place within 3 days, involving professors, researchers and students of the Master of Integrated Facade Design (MID-FD) and the School of Architecture at UCB. The meetings were held via Zoom, with members of the UCB at the campus in Santa Cruz, and members of TH OWL joining from Detmold, Bielefeld, Seoul and New York.

  1. Façade Design Concepts

During the first and second meetings, faculty, researchers, students, and alumni of the MID program presented relevant concepts for facade design and construction, from facade systems to calculation, installation, maintenance, and environmental performance.

1.1. Façade Design at TH OWL – Prof. Daniel Arztmann

Daniel Arztmann is a professor for Facade Design and Construction at TH OWL leading the MID-FD program and is head of the International Building Physics department at Schüco International KG.

An introduction to the Facade Design specialization of the Master of Integrated Design (MID-FD) was presented by Prof. Daniel Arzmann. The program is aimed at training students to consider the complexity of building facades in urban contexts by developing holistic solutions to targeting cultural and social issues as well as environmental and financial aspects throughout the life-cycle of buildings. The Facade Design Master program, taught in English, is open for German and international students who bring a range of expertise from architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, interior architecture and other design fields, in order to work interdisciplinary on comprehensive solutions for contemporary issues in construction.

1.2. Facade Construction Illustrated Guideline – Ranim Ismail

Ranim Ismail recently graduated from the MID-FD program and has a background in architecture

Ranim presented the work of her master thesis, an illustrated guideline for the design and construction of facades, mainly stick systems. The first part focuses on site analysis, climate, energy and user comfort. Then it covers principles of construction, designing on a grid, importance of several elements such as gaskets and cladding. Finally, installation and logistics.

1.3. Facade Analysis of Complex Geometry Buildings – Tomas Mena

Tomas Mena is a Computational Designer at the International Building Physics department Schüco International KG. He has a background in architecture and graduated from the MID-CD program.

The use of computational design tools for design, calculation, simulation and fabrication of complex structures is also fostered at TH OWL, mainly throughout the MID specialization in Computational Design. Tomas presented a look at the work he carries out at Schüco providing support for the development of complex facades, employing visual scripting software (Grasshopper), BIM, and other digital tools that complement the traditional CAD-based workflows. Additionally, digital solutions are being developed by Schüco in order to support customers and architects to have a clearer overview of their project and be able to apply efficient design concepts in the early project stages.

1.4. Sustainable Retrofit of Building Envelopes – Hyeonji Seol

Hyeonji Seol is a student of the MID-FD program writing her master’s thesis and works part-time at a facade engineering company in Seoul.

What is the difference between retrofitting and reconstruction? The presentation included case studies of retrofitted buildings of the 20th century, showcasing the processes used for updating the buildings to today’s standards, bringing them into compliance with new requirements and norms, technical conditions, and quality indicators. Retrofitting, in comparison with demolition-reconstruction generally consumes less energy, but it faces many additional challenges such as preserving the original appearance and architectural intent of the building.

1.5. Climate and Comfort – Godo Zabur Singh Ubhi

Godo Zabur Singh Ubhi is an Architect and a student of the MID-FD program, currently doing an internship at Transsolar Inc in New York.

Understanding the local climate of a project is key to developing highly-efficient facade design strategies. Zabur presented a compilation of the methodologies he follows for designing facade projects with a strong focus on climate and comfort. Before designing a facade its important to define the concept of comfort for the users, and to identify the factors that will affect it. The indoor factors that are in control of the facade designer include surface temperature, air temperature, ventilation (air velocity), humidity and sound. These facts can directly affect the energy efficiency of the building. Finally, the topic of dynamic/kinetic facades was addressed from a critical point of view to understand their potential problems and benefits.

1.6. Facade Acoustics and Soundscape – Alvaro Balderrama

Alvaro Balderrama is a PhD Researcher at TH OWL and TU Delft. He graduated from the MID-CD program, and from the Architecture Bachelor’s program of UCB.

Sound plays an important role in people’s daily life, whether they are inside or outside of buildings. Facades are constantly exposed to urban noise produced by vehicles, airplanes or industrial machinery, as well as more pleasant sounds such as those coming from nature. Architectural decisions regarding building geometry and materials influence sound propagation and contribute to the composition of urban and indoor soundscapes. The transmission of sounds from exterior to interior and vice versa is allowed mainly by the facade, and in many cases such as a university campus, office buildings or housing units, it is important to obtain acoustic quality to allow proper communication, concentration and rest. This presentation aimed to provide awareness of acoustics in architecture focusing on the influence of facades on interior and exterior sound quality.

  1. Case Study: Facade of UCB building

The third and last day of the joint activity was dedicated to a case study about the façade of a new building currently under construction at UCB’s campus in Santa Cruz. Students in the 4th year of the architecture program organized in groups to explain the conditions of the university campus in the tropical climate of Santa Cruz.

Their analysis showed how the morphology and orientation of the building in relation to the dominant wind directions allow cross ventilation in mainly every room of the 5-floor building expecting to minimize the use of air conditioning equipment when possible. A ventilated facade system is being installed in the opaque areas, composed by masonry walls and a rain screen with steel profiles and natural stone cladding, with the intention of reducing interior temperatures and noise. An analysis of the main noise sources from the streets around the building was presented and led the conversation towards the relevance of research in architecture, such as methods for quantifying and qualifying environmental factors, and methods to test the performance of facade materials.