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Designing Virtuous Buildings: 6 Projects that Combine Sustainability and Performance

The clothes used by nomadic peoples in the desert (Bedouins, Berbers, Tuareg, among others) are usually dark, long and made of heavy fabric. Contrary to common sense, which would recommend light, pale and short clothes for a hot climate; heavy and loose clothing favors air convection, creating a constant flow of air along the body, providing thermal comfort in arid climates. For buildings, the analogy works. When approaching energy efficiency and project performance, we will inevitably talk about its envelope, among other aspects of the project. A successful solution in one location, will not always be efficient in another.

As Climate Becomes Extreme, How to Deal with the Building Envelope?

When talking about energy efficiency in buildings, it is inevitable to mention thermal insulation. We rarely see it in a finished building and, even in the technical drawings, the insulating layer appears as a thin hatch. But this is an element that is of vital importance, as it acts as a barrier to the flow of heat, hindering the exchange of energy between the interior and the exterior, reducing the amount of heat that escapes in winter and the thermal energy that enters in the summer. In a building with good thermal insulation, there is less need for heating to keep the house at a pleasant temperature, also reducing its carbon footprint. Currently, there are many countries that require a minimum level of thermal insulation for buildings, with increasingly strict parameters. But how should this issue be dealt with in the near future, with the worrying climate crisis forecast?

Winners of Saint-Gobain’s International Gypsum Trophy 2021

Today, drywall and gypsum-based systems are currently present in almost all architectural works. These allow you to coat buildings with products that combine, among other attributes, construction ease, fire safety and the possibility of recycling, both in historic structures or completely new constructions. Since 1998, Saint-Gobain - one of the largest distributors of these types of systems - has awarded the projects that best apply them in their solutions, dividing them into 6 categories (Ceilings, Plaster, Plasterboard, Innovation & Sustainability, Residential, and Non-Residential). The submitted projects are meant to demonstrate how the architects managed to ingeniously unite the company's products with innovative solutions to overcome each of the difficulties that the works or contexts impose.

Off-Site Construction is Radically Changing the Rules of Architectural Design

The popularity of pre-designed and pre-fabricated homes is growing, moving much of the construction process from the building site into factories. While countries like Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom are increasingly adopting modular buildings to meet labor and housing shortages, Nordic countries like Sweden already build 90% of residential single-family houses in prefab wood. Despite the recent surge in interest, off-site building is by no means a new concept. In fact, the construction method has been present throughout history in many attempts to consolidate its use in construction: as far back as A.D 43, the Roman army brought with them prefabricated forts to Britain, while Japan has been building in wood off-site and moving parts in pre-assemblies for at least a thousand years.

Design Guide: 7 Essential Features of a Net Zero Building

Kiribati has a population of around 110,000 people and its economy is centered on fishing and agriculture. Comprised of 33 islands in the Central Pacific, its highest point is only 81 meters above sea level, which makes it potentially the first country that could disappear completely due to global warming and the consequent rise in sea levels. The climate crisis has been a hotly debated topic in recent years and terms such as carbon footprint, greenhouse effect, atmospheric aerosols, and many others, are already staples in our vocabulary. Another widely spoken term is “net zero”, or net zero emission, used as a goal for buildings in different industries and countries. Basically, it means that the energy balance is zero.

How Fire Protection Glass Can Save Lives without Compromising Design

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While glass is generally singled out as the weakest part of a building, it is not always true. With technological advances and the continuous innovations of the industry, there is glass that, even while allowing natural light to enter an environment, can protect the building from fire. Beyond fire, there are also other threats such as hot gases, smoke, and heat transmission, which put the safe evacuation of people and the protection of property at risk.

How to Design the Perfect Acoustic Enclosure: Comfort in Flooring, Ceilings, and Walls

As our cities densify and building types become more and more mixed-use, we tend to spend a lot of time in noisy environments. When we think about acoustic comfort, we rarely think of places like restaurants, venues, and big offices; places with a lot of people, machinery, and background noise. The quality of sound can entirely change the experience of people in an interior space, and improving the space's acoustic quality relies on treating all surfaces, from walls to ceilings, and flooring. In this article, we will present a variety of solutions for ceilings, flooring, and walls, their different combinations, and a simple guide of how to apply them correctly in public spaces without compromising the aesthetic of the interior.

Will Refurbishment be the Architectural Specialization of the Future?

The choice of Lacaton & Vassal to receive the 2021 Pritzker Prize was, above all, emblematic. Under the mantra “never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform and reuse”, the French duo built a career focused on renovating buildings, providing them with spatial quality, efficiency and new programs. Their approach contrasts with most of the architecture we are used to honoring: iconic, imposing and grandiose works. It also contrasts with the notion of the tabula rasa, of building and rebuilding from scratch, so well represented in Le Corbusier's Ville Radieuse, and which has fascinated architects and urban planners ever since.

Multi Comfort: Meet the Winners of the 16th Edition of the Saint-Gobain International Student Contest

Saint-Gobain has announced the results for the 16th edition of its international Multi Comfort Student Contest. This year, the challenge was to convert the post-industrial area of the Coignet company in Saint-Denis (France) into a space for living, learning, and leisure in the heart of a large green space, respecting both the historical heritage and the needs of sustainable development of modern neighborhoods, in collaboration with the city of Saint-Denis.

Learn more about the top three winning projects below.

More Daylight but Less Glare & Heat: How Does Automatically Tintable Glass Work?

In a 2016 survey of 400 employees in the U.S., Saint-Gobain found that office building occupants commonly complained about poor lighting, temperature, noise, and air quality, leading the company to deduce a need for improved lighting and thermal comfort in buildings while also maintaining low energy consumption and freedom of design for architects and clients. Their solution was SageGlass, an innovative glass created first in 1989 and developed over the course of the past three decades. The glass, which features dynamic glazing protecting from solar heat and glare, simultaneously optimizes natural light intake. A sustainable and aesthetic solution, SageGlass’ adaptability to external conditions dispels the need for shutters or blinds.

Natural Ventilation Isn't the Most Efficient Solution in All Cases

Ventilation serves two main purposes in a room: first, to remove pollutants and provide clean air; second, to meet the metabolic needs of the occupants, providing pleasant temperatures (weather permitting). It is well known that environments with inadequate ventilation can bring serious harm to the health of the occupants and, especially in hot climates, thermal discomfort. A Harvard University study demonstrated that in buildings with good ventilation and better air quality (with lower rates of carbon dioxide), occupants showed better performance of cognitive functions, faster responses to extreme situations, and better reasoning in strategic activities.

Comfort & Sustainability in Architecture: Trends 2021

Just before the global lockdowns began in response to the spread of the widely discussed COVID-19, we met with Saint Gobain experts at their new headquarters in Paris to discuss an extensive investigation conducted in 2019, with the aim of understanding the transformations that architecture and construction have experienced in recent years. After an interesting exchange of ideas, we chose the most relevant topics to be analyzed in depth by our team of editors, resulting in a series of articles that combined the trends identified with the unexpected events that occurred during 2020, connecting them directly to architectural design.

Passive Thermal Comfort Strategies in Residential Projects

There was a time when people appreciated self-contained architecture, in which the building envelope would not function as a moderator between the climate outside and the interior environment but rather as an inert and independent barrier. Countless mechanical devices and electrical ventilation, heating, and cooling equipment. A real machine.