Metals Construction (Spring, 2017) | Collaborative competition | Participated as an environmental consultant
Dynamic Insulation + Topology Optimization
The proposed façade integrates topologically optimized structural framing and membrane based dynamic insulation skin. The topology optimization ensures that the volume and weight of the steel framing are minimized without compromising in structural performance. The multi-layered ETFE membrane which is extremely lightweight, durable, and transparent, serve as an alternative to the traditional aluminum and glass cladding system. The air layers between each layer serve as thermal insulation which can be dynamically adjusted by the degree of inflation.
At full inflation, the U-value is minimized due to the low conductivity of still air contained within the layers. The six layers (thin and tall air cavity spaces) ensure that the convection heat transfer via air circulation is suppressed. The radiation heat transfer can also be minimized using low-e coating on the interstitial layers. At full deflation, the air layers are collapsed into a single membrane increasing the U-value significantly and drastically exchanging heat between the interior and exterior environment. The functionality of low-e coating is also eliminated since it is in contact with the facing membrane. By dynamically adjusting the level of inflation it is possible to vary the thermal insulation based on seasonal changes, building orientation, and daily temperature fluctuation. The dynamic insulation will particular be advantageous at seasonal or daily temperature transitions (i.e. cool or heat the thermal mass of the building). The opacity of the skin can also be controlled using translucent or opaque gas (e.g. nitrogen fog).