Architects are increasingly aware of our influence on the well-being and good health of the users of our projects. Natural lighting –and how it should be complemented with artificial lighting– is an essential factor to consider for the visual comfort of interior spaces. But, do we know how to handle it correctly?
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More than half the world’s population lives in dense urban areas. Uncomfortably loud restaurants, stores, hotels, or offices are enough to keep patrons away. When planning a meeting or even a night out with friends, we are conscious of selecting a location where we can focus and hear one another. The noisier our world gets, the more difficulty we have focusing on the sounds we actually want to hear.
Since the beginning of time, our ears have warned us of approaching danger. While their function remains the same, the dangers of today are different than they were in the past. Unwanted sounds can have serious health effects such as: hearing loss, cardiovascular disease high blood pressure, headaches, hormonal changes, psychosomatic illnesses, sleep disorders, reduction in physical and mental performance, stress reactions, aggression, constant feelings of displeasure and reduction in general well-being. With this laundry list of side effects, it would be foolish to leave the acoustic comfort of our spaces up to consultants alone. When we take acoustic comfort into our own hands, the end result can be quite extraordinary.
Have you ever found yourself losing a good night’s sleep due to an overly warm room? Or wearing four jackets and a scarf just to tolerate your office’s frigid air conditioning? Truth be told, you can’t please everyone when it comes to adjusting an indoor climate, and there is always that one unfortunate individual who ends up sacrificing their own comfort for the sake of others.
Evidently, there are no ‘universal standards’ or ‘recommended comfort ranges’ in designing building systems, since athletes training in a gym in Mexico will not feel comfortable in an interior with the same building systems of a nursing home in Denmark, for instance. Which is why, if we were to briefly define ‘thermal comfort’, it is the creation of building systems that are adapted to the local environment and functions of the space, cooperatively.
So how can we design for optimum thermal comfort?
Design House, which is held annually within the framework of Design Week Mexico, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. In this year's edition, 24 local designers and architects transformed an abandoned home, each restoring a room or outdoor area. One of these interventions, by Broissin Architects, reconstructed the outdoor patio into a micro-forest with the small, glass house placed on a centenary ash tree.
Students from South Africa, Belarus, and Germany have been chosen as the winners of the 14th edition MultiComfort House Students Contest, a contest created in 2004 and organized by Saint-Gobain. Entrants were to develop a project based on the principles of the multi-comfort concept, that is, "an optimum indoor environment ensuring the right level of fresh air, thermal, visual and acoustic comfort provided in a sustainable and energy efficient manner," as explained by the organizers.
In close collaboration with the Department of Planning of the Municipality of Dubai and the Dubai Properties Group, Saint-Gobain presented the challenge of designing a cross-cultural community project in the cultural village of Dubai, on the shores of the Al Jaddaf inlet.
Considering Dubai's hot and humid climate, the students had to find a way to reconcile reducing the energy consumption of the refrigeration and ventilation systems without compromising any of the comforts of the inhabitants; while at the same time providing an optimal relationship with the environment.
How the World's Largest Building Materials Manufacturer Used Its Own Products to Create a World-Class Headquarters for Its Employees
Saint-Gobain’s new corporate headquarters campus in Malvern, PA—the North American home to the world’s largest building materials company—is not a typical corporate campus. As the company approached its 350th anniversary, they set out to build a headquarters that would offer a dynamic showcase for its products.
The company assembled a team of designers from two firms—Bernardon and Jacobs—to transform a long-dormant site consisting of two office buildings into an integrated, world-class headquarters located in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
In recent years the Multi-Comfort House Student Contest has developed from a regional event aimed at architecture students to an international forum for anyone with an interest in architecture.
The opportunity to compare work and meet with international colleagues has made the competition incredibly popular with students and professors alike. In only a few years the contest has grown from just five participating countries to a worldwide competition.
The physical properties of glass are invaluable and unequaled when it comes to the architect’s material palette. From the time of the cathedrals and the the brilliantly colored stained glass that served a functional and didactic purpose, to the modernist liberation of the floor plan and the exquisitely-framed horizontal views provided by ample windows, architects have turned to glass to achieve not only aesthetic but performative conditions in their projects.
Today, Architects face an increasing array of choices in specifying and designing with glass for building facades, as glass manufacturers propose a greater variety of colors, textures and patterns than ever before. A wider range of coatings and treatments has also been developed, allowing for a finer selection of glass panes with a combination of light transmittance, reflectance and absorption to meet the needs of outstanding architectural projects. These options affect the aesthetics and energy performance of the glass, and therefore of the overall building.
Thanks to advanced calculation tools, energy performance can now be anticipated accurately, but the graphic representation of glass is still a challenge, and yet a crucial need for architects.
In collaboration with The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK) and Saint-Gobain, we invite all skilled, new architects in Denmark who engage through architecture and improve indoor conditions to submit entries for the architectural alumni student competition Saint-Gobain Comfort and Architecture 2016.