Research project

Interactive office building toward smart and interactive facade

Occupants well-being and energy consumption are two important issues in the field of architectural design and building technology. The demand for thermal and visual comfort from occupants has been increased considerably. However, optimizing occupant comfort is challenging because there are two distinct spaces including interior (inside) and the environment (outside), which are interacting together. The façade is an interface between inside of buildings and the outside environment that has the capability to function as a conservative, regulator and interactive element against severe fluctuations of external climate. In particular, an architectural façade form is an important factor when defining the identity of buildings and determining their interaction with the surrounding environment. The optimal facade form significantly affects the occupants comfort conditions due to continuous microclimate changes in the building ambient environment. Indeed, exploring the building form, as a microclimate modifier, lead to apply concept of occupants’ daily migration to façade form by designing a kinetic façade which responds to occupant’s position. Consequently, these subjects impact façade form individually and aggregately regard to functional scenario that is changed the perception of kinetic façade from elegant and fashionable state to a functional and practical element.

Since comfort concept has been evolved in the course of time, notion of changing façade configuration over time is an approach to improve thermal & visual comfort. Three dimensional shape changes in façade elements, have a potential to control the microclimate forces (solar and wind). For instance Al Bahar Towers and Helio Trace Centre of Architecture are responsive facades which provide daylight performance, thermal and visual comfort by controlling solar heat gain and reducing glare. The responsive kinetic façade, using sensors and actuators to interact morphologically with the ambient environment for enhancing occupant comfort. Therefore, kinetic façade has a potential to be further investigated for providing occupant visual and thermal comfort respecting dynamic stimuli comprising sun timing positions and occupant positions.

The responsive modular elements can be adapted to dynamic daylight by continuously changing façade configurations. Specifically, parametric decentralized façade’s apertures that interact with sun radiation based on the relationship between external environment, interior space and occupants’ position. Therefore, applying active occupant engagement into a responsive façade concept leads us to a transition from the façade regulatory function to the interactive phase, which provides an interactive kinetic facade, which has the capacity for hierarchically filtering daylight and real-time control, preventing daylight discomfort.

Also, based on the multifunctional aspects of the kinetic facades, a broad range of the functions have potential to be integrated in the kinetic façade including thermal and visual comfort, reducing artificial light, sun tracking and producing electricity. Regarding the high performance of the 3D-SCF to meet comfort criteria, applying biomimicry approach might lead us to detect high performance, adjustable and unique alternatives for the interactive façade geometry. Also, the kinetic façade, as an interactive component, could learn and adapt to occupant activities and behavior, resulting in the need for a machine learning approach for developing interactive designs based on different independent parameters. The next generation of façade will be living façade form that called Robo-Façade System. This multifunctional facade has a capability to be adapted in the real time operation by learning from ambient environment stimuli and occupants’ behavior.

The development of this research project will be conducted by Seyed Morteza Hosseini (PhD Candidate) under supervision of Masi Mohammadi (Professor). Another members who contribute to the research are Alexander Rosemann (Professor), Jos Lichtenberg (Professor), Torsten Schröder (Doctor) and Olivia Guerra Santin (Doctor).