In recent years, researchers have developed revolutionary facades that cool, heat and neutralize smog. Innovative technologies make buildings more energy-efficient and have a positive impact on the CO2 balance. We introduce you to some of the futuristic high-tech frames that combine utility and creativity.
Innovative stainless steel facades
Until now, stainless steel facades have primarily been used in prestigious large buildings. Innovative developments in processing technology make stainless steel facades attractive even for smaller buildings. Combinations with wood, concrete, masonry or coated steel sheets open up a multitude of new design possibilities. Stainless steel can also be used efficiently for facades with technical functions such as light control, shading or electromagnetic shielding. In addition, new computer-controlled processes such as milling, laser and waterjet cutting as well as innovative three-dimensional deformation techniques open up new creative design possibilities.
Energy-efficient steel facades
Another innovative steel façade system was presented at this year’s Munich construction trade fair by the German Steel Industry Association. The lightweight steel construction system enables material- and energy-efficient building envelopes, preferably in high-quality multi-storey buildings. The SolarWall® system installed uses air collectors to heat the fresh and process air and makes it available for energetic use. Up to 600 watts of heat energy per square metre of wall surface can be generated in this way, heating costs are reduced by 50 percent. Detailed information can be found in the documentation “Steel panels for facades“.
Smog neutralizing facades
To counteract fines in cities, the Berlin-based start-up embellishments developed an innovative façade made of steel and plastic that neutralises smog. The secret of the fine dust guzzling façade “prosolve370e” is a titanium oxide coating that converts toxic fine dust into other chemical compounds such as water, CO2 or lime nitrate. The façade can break down about 0.26 grams of nitrogen oxides per square meter. This corresponds to an air pollution of up to seventeen cars per day. The technology is particularly interesting in South America. A 2,500 square meter facade was installed on the outer wall of the hospital “Manuel Gea Gonzales” in Mexico City.
Sustainable facade cladding made of bioplastics
The innovative thermoplastic bioplastic granulate ARBOBLEND®, developed by the Institute for Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart, consists of 90 percent renewable raw materials. Plates made from these can be further processed by drilling, printing, laminating, laser cutting, CNC milling or deep-drawing the plates as required. In this way, different surface qualities, structures and moulded parts can be produced.
The flagship project of the institute is the Arbo Skin Pavilion in Stuttgart. It convinces not only through aesthetics, but also through the use of ecologically sustainable facade panels, which are also recyclable.
Bionic facades with plant-like properties
Bionics provides a promising approach for energy-efficient facades. By using technologies modelled on nature, the façade can be transformed from a passive protective envelope into an active regulator of a building’s energy balance. This will open up completely new possibilities for functional and ecologically efficient buildings for façade design in the future. So far, two systems for energy generation and shading have been developed on the basis of bionic principles: “Flectofin” and “Solar Ivy” (solar ivy).
Solar-Ivy was developed by the American company S.M.I.T. (Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology). The system is based on hanging artificial leaves with adapted thin-film photovoltaic cells such as ivy in front of the facade. On the one hand, this has cooling effects, on the other hand, energy is simultaneously generated by sunlight. The system has already been implemented in the New York area: the enveloping surfaces of high-rise garages, multi-storey residential buildings and multi-storey residential buildings, but also existing buildings were completely renewed with the bionic system.
The “Flectofin” system was developed by research teams from Stuttgart and Freiburg, an institute for fiber processing and a specialist company for shading systems. The bird of paradise flower served as a model. The special feature of this shading system: Elastic deformations replace hinges, joints and angle connections. An innovative feature of this system is the ability to create shadows on double-curved surfaces in high solar radiation, which sustainably reduces energy consumption for air conditioning. The Viennese architectural office “soma” used the principle for the movable facade segments of the pavilion “One Ocean” for Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea.
Looking to the future: Water Flow Glazing Systems
The EU-funded project InDeWaG (Industrial Development of Water Glazing Systems) is currently pursuing an exciting approach: the glass façade elements through which water flows have the ability to both heat and cool. This means that buildings consume considerably less energy for heating, ventilation and air conditioning than before. Construction costs for new buildings are reduced by up to 15 percent. The aim is the industrial production of standardized building elements that can be used in different climatic zones.
Conclusion – How high-tech facades combine efficiency and creativity
Innovative facade technologies aim to develop long-term solutions for intelligent, sustainable facades: Maximum energy efficiency and comfort should go hand in hand with minimum resource consumption. Because nowadays a facade has much more to offer than just good looks. The key energy data must also be correct.
Article originally published by LEAD Innovation Management
Written by Angela HENGSBERGER