/// Integral Wall
IMAGINED BY: Charlotte Heesbeen, guided by T. Klein
KEYWORDS: composite, free-form, ventilating, heating, cooling, load bearing, solid, envelope, unknown material
PERFORMANCE: integrated functions
This approach can be explained with the example of a tea cup. In the first cup, each main function is translated into a separate component. The second cup shows an integral architecture. But what does an integral approach mean for façade construction?
The source of inspiration for this principle is the structure of bones. Basically, the entire bone is made from one material – tissue – but different zones comprise different types of tissue to serve different functions. The outer cartilage is soft and ductile and protects the actual bone structure. This is divided into a very massive and a sponge-like structure to minimize weight.
Transferred to material science and architecture this means that an integral material could be influenced in order to achieve different functionality. Mass and porosity can influence the structure as well as the insulation properties of a material. For other functions, the shape can be adjusted or additives, such as embedded reflective elements, can be used to create an enhancing effect.
The façade design is based on these aspects. Mass is accumulated where it is needed for the structure of the building. For insulation purposes, the outer area is porous.
Continuous pores in the inner area can transport warm and cold water. Embedded glass fibers transport light.
The benefit of an integral design is potentially higher performance, because the product can be adjusted according to its functionality. Standard interfaces are always based on compromises. But with an integral approach there is no need for physical interfaces between different functional components; the concept is based on seamless construction with its many benefits. On the other hand, the façade cannot be adapted at a later stage and integral constructions have an influence on the ability to recycle. In order to achieve some degree of adaptability, interfaces have to be introduced to connect components that need to be exchanged. Additional features can be used to create a modular interface, such as an integrated nut into which a bolt can be mounted to attach more functional components.
The design shows that integral product architecture requires integral design and integral production facilities.