Arup and GXN Innovation have been awarded with the JEC Innovation Award 2015 in the construction category for their development of the world's first self-supporting biocomposite facade panel. Developed as part of the €7.7 million EU-funded BioBuild program, the design reduces the embodied energy of facade systems by 50% compared to traditional systems with no extra cost in construction.
The 4-by-2.3 meter panel is made from flax fabric and bio-derived resin. Intended primarily for commercial offices, the glazing unit features a parametrically-derived faceted design, and comes prefabricated ready for installation. The panel is also designed to be easy to disassemble, making it simple to recycle at the end of its life.
The panel consists of two biocomposite outer shells with a layer of insulation in between. The faceted overhang above the glazed section of the panel can be parametrically adjusted depending on the panel's location and orientation, providing optimal shading for the glazing, which together with the low thermal conductivity of the biocomposite material gives the panel excellent thermal performance. The panel was designed to conform to the stringent fire, thermal and structural codes of Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom and Spain.
"This innovative product pushes the boundaries of both facade and materials engineering towards new targets by using biocomposites in an extremely demanding sector of construction," said Guglielmo Carra, BioBuild Design Manager at Arup Berlin. "The design freedom of biocomposites can generate a strong impact on the appearance of buildings."
In addition to the awarded facade panel, the BioBuild consortium has realized building kits for rainscreen systems, internal partition walls and suspended ceilings. Speaking about the BioBuild program and the JEC Innovation Awards, the Director of GXN (the research arm of architecture firm 3XN) Kasper Guldager Jensen added: "BioBuild proves that biocomposites can create viable products for the building industry. I am very happy to see this collaborative effort between engineers, architects, materials specialists and manufacturers come through, it shows the strength of cross disciplinary innovation."
The JEC Innovation Award will be presented to the team at a ceremony in Paris on March 10th.